BEND, OR -- In an effort to limit the number of human-caused fires in the region, the Oregon Department of Forestry is imposing a Regulated Use closure, beginning Friday.
Christie Shaw, with the ODF, says there have already been 34 human-caused fires since January, which is more than in an average year. "We’re seeing almost a human-caused fire a day anymore, it seems like, for the last couple weeks. And, that puts a strain on our resources, we start talking about fatigue for firefighters. We’re starting earlier now, then actually constantly responding to a fire." She tells KBND News, "We’re seeing definitely some escaped debris burns, illegal debris burns – burning without a permit and then it’s escaping beyond control. And, either burning larger than they can control and they call for help, or it’s burning onto a neighbor’s land, things like that. Some of them are still under investigation, so I can’t really speak as to the nature of those."
The Regulated Use closure applies to the 2.2-million acres of state, county and private land across the 12 counties in the Central Oregon district, including Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties. It imposes restrictions on things like smoking, chainsaw use, campfires and mowing. For a complete list, click HERE. Fireworks and blasting are strictly prohibited.
Shaw tells KBND News, "Last year, everyone was hyper-aware that we were in drought and people were more cautious. I think this year, people have seen that ‘oh, we had a pretty good winter, we’re coming out of the drought.’ But really, plants and vegetation have seen that stress for several years, so we’re still seeing that they’re dry and they burn fairly readily for this time of year." She says additional restrictions could be imposed later in the summer, if conditions worsen.