BEND, OR -- Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests, Crooked River National Grassland, and Prineville District Bureau of Land Management (BLM) increased the fire danger rating for their respective public lands to “High” Friday. The increased rating reflects the sustained hot temperatures and increased drying of vegetation. As temperatures warm, fine fuels such as grasses and pine needles start to dry out becoming receptive to fire.
Annual campfire restrictions are in effect on portions of the Crooked, Deschutes, John Day, and White Rivers, as well as BLM-administered lands along Lake Billy Chinook and Lake Simtustus. The river canyons present a combination of limited access, grassy fuels that dry out quickly, and steep slopes that allow wildfires to spread rapidly. The river fire closures prohibit building, igniting, maintaining, attending, using, tending or being within 20 feet of a campfire, charcoal fire, or any other type of open flame. Propane campfires and wood pellet burning devices are also prohibited. Commercially manufactured lanterns and metal camp stoves used for cooking are allowed, when fueled with bottled propane or liquid fuel and operated in a responsible manner.
Fire restrictions are not currently in effect for the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River National Grassland. Campers should keep fires small and contained within a campfire ring. The surrounding area should be clear of combustible material at least 15 feet from the campfire ring. If dispersed camping, choose an area for your campfire with a hardened surface and away from vegetation and low-hanging branches.
People should always make sure that campfires are dead out. Dead out means you can place your hand on top of where the campfire was located, and it is cool to the touch. Pack a shovel and plenty of water to ensure that you can “drown, stir, and feel.” Never walk away from a campfire assuming it will go out on its own. When using a generator, gas/liquified stove, fire pit, or lantern, make sure the area around it is free of all debris and combustible material.
Drivers should ensure that chains are secure before travel. Loose chains can drag on pavement creating sparks that can ignite vegetation. Vehicles should never be driven or parked on dry grass. The vehicle heat can ignite the vegetation. Properly dispose of cigarettes and smoking materials – never throw them out a vehicle window. Using explosive target material, such as Tannerite, explosives, and fireworks is prohibited on all federal lands.
For current wildland fire information, the public can visit centraloregonfire.org or follow fire information on Twitter @CentralORfire and for current Central Oregon Fire Precaution Information call 1-800-523-4737. Call 9-1-1 to report a wildfire.