An early start to brushfire season

By Scott Graves, Pilot staff writer May 03, 2013 07:38 pm

With another day of temperatures in the 80s and 90s expected along the coast today, wildland fire officials are on alert and asking residents to take extra steps to prevent brushfires.

“We’ve been chasing small fires all week long,” said John Flannigan, spokesman for the Coos Forest Protective Association. “Most of the fires were by people doing private burns and finding out that material is dryer than they thought.”

One of those fires happened Thursday afternoon in the Walker Ranch area of Pistol River. CFPA firefighters helped the private landowner control the fire and it was fully extinguished by Friday morning, Flannigan said.

The National Weather Service is forecasting highs of in the mid- 80s and 90s in Curry County. Strong, warm easterly winds are also expected through the weekend, increasing the risk of fires getting out of hand, officials said. 

“Early May is typically not the time we start worrying about fire,” said Oregon Department of Forestry Fire Prevention Coordinator Tom Fields. “But with the lack of moisture and no real relief in sight, now is the time to start making fire prevention a priority.”

Fields suggested people follow these simple rules when disposing of yard debris:

•Seek alternatives to burning such as chipping or hauling to a landfill.

•Call your local fire department or forest protection agency to see if a burning permit is required. Burning regulations are not the same in all areas.

•Have a shovel and charged garden hose at the burn site.

•Avoid burning during windy conditions.

•Scrape down to mineral soil around incinerators or debris piles.

•Divide large piles into smaller piles. Smaller piles burn quickly and efficiently and are easier to control.

•Stay with the fire until it is completely out.

•Remember, unattended piles can spread quickly out of control. If your debris burn escapes control, call 911 immediately.