Sunday, September 30, 2018


Did you know that escaped debris burns are the leading human cause of wildfire in Oregon?  These burns particularly happen in the Fall and Spring when people think it is safe and permissible to burn.  In 2017, backyard debris burns that escaped control resulted in 149 wildfires burning 334 acres at a cost of $183,000 to suppress.

A burn pile is less likely to escape control if you follow these simple safety tips:

CALL BEFORE YOU BURN -  Burning regulations are not the same in all areas and can vary with weather and fuel conditions.  If you're planning to burn, check with your local ODF district (Forest Grove District 503-357-2191), fire protective association, local fire department or air protection authority to learn if there are any current burning restrictions in effect, and whether a permit is required. 

KNOW THE WEATHER FORECAST - Avoid burning on dry or windy days.  These conditions make it easy for an open burn to spread out of control.

CLEAR A 10-FOOT RADIUS AROUND YOUR PILE - also make sure there are no tree branches or power lines above.

KEEP YOUR BURN PILE SMALL - a large burn may cast hot embers long distances.  Small piles, 4 x 4 feet, are recommended.  Add debris in small amounts as existing material is consumed.

ALWAYS HAVE WATER AND FIRE TOOLS ON SITE --When burning, have a charged water hose, bucket of water, and shovel and dirt nearby to extinguish the fire.  Drown the pile with water, stir the coals and drown again, repeating till the fire is cold to the touch. 

STAY WITH THE FIRE UNTIL IT IS COMPLETELY OUT -- Monitoring a debris burn from start to finish until dead out is required by state law.  Go back and recheck old burn piles, as they can retain heat for several weeks and then rekindle when the weather warms and wind begins to blow.

NEVER USE GASOLINE OR OTHER ACCELERANTS --Never use flammable or combustible liquids to start or increase your open fire.  Every year, 10 to 15 percent of all burn injuries treated at the Oregon Burn Center in Portland are the result of backyard debris burning. 

BURN ONLY YARD DEBRIS -- State regulations prohibit the open burning of any material that creates dense smoke or noxious odors. 

ESCAPED DEBRIS BURNS ARE COSTLY -- State law requires the proper clearing, building, attending and extinguishing of open fires any time of year.  If your debris burn spreads out of control, you are responsible for the cost of fire suppression and very likely the damage to neighboring properties.  This can range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars.

If you are burning logging slash, work with your local ODF office to burn under the smoke management requirements.  We will work to find you the right conditions to achieve your burn goals efficiently.