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The decision was announced Thursday, Sept. 8, by the Columbia County Fire Defense Board.

COURTESY PHOTO: SCAPPOOSE FIRE DISRICT - The Alder Creek Fire ignited near Scappoose in 2021. Extreme fire danger conditions are in the forecast for this weekend.Due to high temperatures, windy conditions and low humidity, Columbia County is expected to be under a red flag warning Friday and Saturday.

Because of the warning — which essentially means there is an extreme risk of wildfires starting and spreading out of control — the Columbia County Fire Defense Board has banned open burning, effective immediately, the board announced Thursday, Sept. 8.

The National Weather Service announced earlier that a red flag warning would take effect at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 9, and end Saturday, Sept. 10, at 11 p.m.

Because of the unusual conditions for this late in the year, the Columbia County Fire Defense Board is saying that with the anticipated red flag warning, the fire districts of Columbia County — including Columbia River Fire & Rescue, the Clatskanie Fire District, the Mist-Birkenfeld Fire District, the Oregon Department of Forestry, the Scappoose Fire District and the Vernonia Fire District — are closing all burning, including at county parks, effective immediately "for the safety of our communities."

"All open burning is prohibited, including recreational campfires, portable propane/patio fireplaces and charcoal BBQs," the fire agencies stressed in a joint statement.

Fire agencies warn that escaped fires of any kind that result in property damage and/or require fire suppression efforts may result in fines and individual financial responsibility for damages caused.

The St. Helens School District issued a statement Thursday, Sept. 8, saying, "At this time, there are no potential risks in any of the areas surrounding our schools. Student safety and the safety of all staff members in our buildings is our highest priority, which is why we are monitoring the situation and are in contact with the local Columbia County Emergency Management Team to keep up to date."

The fire defense board says carelessness is the biggest cause of wildfires.

2022 fire season information can be found on the Oregon Department of Forestry website, along with information about burn bans and other restrictions.

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