Southern Oregon fire danger rises to high Monday

·2 min read

Jul. 15—Effective July 18, the fire danger level on Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands in Jackson and Josephine counties is going up a notch, bringing with it new restrictions.

Fire danger will rise to the yellow level — "high" — at 12:01 a.m. Monday, according to news advisories issued by ODF Southwest Oregon District and the Medford office of the Bureau of Land Management.

The new restrictions largely impact the hours when power-driven equipment, such as chainsaws, mowers and weed-eaters are allowed to be used.

During high fire danger, the use of power-driven equipment, such as grinding and cutting metal, is prohibited between 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The use of other spark-emitting equipment, including wood splitters and generators, also is prohibited during those hours, but mowing green lawns is allowed.

Despite a wet spring, fire officials say conditions are warming and drying rapidly, and fire conditions are expected to be "above normal" for Southern Oregon through July and August amid drought conditions, according to the BLM.

Starting July 18, BLM will allow campfires only at Hyatt Lake Campground and the lower section of the Rogue River below the high water mark. In all areas, portable cooking stoves using liquefied and bottled fuels are allowed but other types of open fire — including charcoal briquettes — are prohibited.

Other regulations currently in effect:

* No debris burning, including piles and debris burned in burn barrels

* No fireworks on or within an eighth of a mile of forestland

* No use of exploding targets, tracer ammunition or any bullet with a pyrotechnic charge in its base

* Campfires only in designated campgrounds. Portable stoves using bottled fuels are allowed in other locations

* Smoking while traveling is allowed only in enclosed vehicles on improved roads, in boats on the water and in other specifically designated locations.

* A one-hour fire watch is required after each chainsaw use

* Using internal combustion engines is allowed only on work sites cleared of potentially flammable vegetation, and a water supply must be at the job site.

* All electric fence controllers must be UL certified, and must be installed in compliance with instructions for fire-safe operation

Starting Monday, the Industrial Fire Precaution Level will rise to Level 2, or "limited shutdown," according to ODF. The restrictions impact 1.8 million acres of state, private, county and BLM lands in Jackson and Josephine counties.

The following will be prohibited between 1 and 8 p.m. daily:

* Power saws, except at loading sites

* Feller-bunchers with rotary head saws

* Cable yarding

* Blasting

* Welding, cutting or grinding metal

For more information or questions about restrictions, see swofire.com or contact ODF's Medford office at 541-664-3328.