The Curry Coastal Pilot

The South Coast has been enjoying sunny, yet relatively cool weather this summer. In fact, the towering thunderheads that usually appear over the wilderness east of Brookings have been conspicuously absent, and reports of lightning-sparked wildfires have been few.

But now is not the time to become lax. With warmer, dryer weather expected now through October, it's imperative that we continue to practice fire-safe behavior.

While lightning often ignites the largest wildfires, officials say human carelessness accounts for 69 percent of all fire starts on the 16 million acres of forestland protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry. Backyard debris burning, equipment use and campfires left unattended top the list of wildfire causes every year. Increased wildfire prevention awareness can bring down the incidence of these "people fires" and free up resources to battle Nature-ignited fires.

It would be best to refrain from doing any commercial or recreational burning. However, if you do choose to use fire, here are some tips to reduce the risks:

andbull;If campfires are allowed where you are camping, extinguish them completely.

andbull;Use care when barbecuing, keeping the ground under and around the barbecue clear of vegetation and away from combustible material or structures.

andbull;Do not smoke in the forest except in your vehicle or enclosed building.

If you have any questions about burning or want more information about fire-safe procedures, call your local fire department or the Coos Forest Protective Association at 541-267-3161.

It's everyone's responsibility to prevent wildfires.