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FireFree offers local no-burn option for cleaning up yards after damaging snow and winds.

Spring has finally arrived in Oregon. Warming weather trends, snow melt, and dwindling rain showers are all giving way to greener grasses, vibrant flowers and the desire to get out and do some yardwork.

Debris burning is often part of the process of cleaning up trees and shrubs damaged by significant snow and heavy winds or removing flammable vegetation near structures in preparation for the coming wildfire season.

As you plan your landscaping projects and hazardous fuel removal, consider chipping or recycling the material rather than burning. Many areas, including Jefferson County, have free yard debris recycling events during the spring, which reduces the risk of escaped debris burns or reignition of burn piles.

The next FireFree Community Cleanup event in Jefferson County will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 4 and 5, at the Box Canyon Transfer Station. The "no-burn" option, provided by the Jefferson County Fire District, Madras Sanitary and Jefferson County, helps reduce smoke impacts to you and your neighbors.

If you are planning to burn your yard debris, early spring is the perfect time to get those projects going, before vegetation begins to dry out.

Rob Pentzer, acting district forester for Oregon Department of Forestry's Central Oregon District, encourages landowners who are planning to burn debris to "Do it now, but do it safely. Our recent rains provide a real opportunity for landowners to complete projects, but as we often see, conditions can change quickly and waiting a week may significantly increase the risk of escaped fire."

Before burning yard debris, check local smoke and burning restrictions through the Jefferson County Fire Department, or Oregon Department of Forestry. Also follow these tips to reduce the risk of an escaped debris burn.

- Call the local burn line at 541-475-1789.

- Check the weather forecast, avoid burning on windy days or when wind is in the forecast.

- Clear the area around your burn pile to mineral soil before you burn.

- Keep your burn pile small.

- Have water and tools on site.

- Never leave your burn pile unattended. Revisit old burn piles regularly, as they can reignite — even several weeks later.

- Fully extinguish the burn pile by drowning with water and stirring until the fire is dead out.

- Burn only yard debris. Never burn prohibited materials, such as tires, plastic, asbestos or oil.

For additional information on ODF's Central Oregon District, including contact information, burn permit requests, and local unit offices, visit www.ODFcentraloregon.com.


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