News, Washington County, wildfire

Fire districts throughout Washington County ban most outdoor burning

Just hours after fire season began in the far western portion of Washington County and other portions of northwestern Oregon, fire agencies in the rest of the county took action to limit outdoor burning by enacting an outdoor burn ban Wednesday at 7 a.m.

The Washington County Fire Defense Board—that’s Forest Grove Fire & Rescue, which includes the areas served by the Forest Grove Rural Fire Protection District; Banks Fire District, agencies serving Cornelius, Gaston and Hillsboro; and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue—noted their authority to do so under Oregon Revised Statute 478.960 and Oregon Fire Code 307.

“Fire chiefs in Washington County encourage the public to use extreme caution with activities that could start a fire,” a joint press release read. “It is everyone’s responsibility to prevent and be prepared for wildfires.”

What’s banned

As of June 14 at 7 a.m.:

Backyard or open burning of yard debris and branches

Agricultural burning of agricultural waste, crops, or field burning

Slash, stump, debris or controlled land clearing-type burning of any kind

What’s allowed

Small outdoor cooking, warming, and recreational fires, barbecue grills, smokers, and other cooking appliances.

Fires that have a maximum fuel area of three feet in diameter and two feet in height, must be located safely away from vegetation or material it could ignite, and be fully put out after use.

Cooking appliances must burn clean, dry fuels such as dry firewood, briquettes, wood chips, pellets, propane, and natural gas.

Those within lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry and within one eighth of a mile of their borders may have further restrictions on burning, and should consult the state agency’s fire restrictions website.

When using fire that is allowed, the Banks Fire District urged caution.

“When participating in these activities please do them safely, keep a fire extinguisher, water, and/or a shovel immediately at hand. If your even think your activities may be getting out of control please call 911 immediately. We would much rather get our crews started your way and have it turn out it wasn’t needed than the other way around,” Banks Fire District spokesperson Scott Adams said.

“Just in the last 24 hours we have had a brush fire in our district, sent our crews to the coast range to assist Oregon Department of Forestry on a fire, and Washington County crews have been dispatched to assist with a wild land fire near Hermiston. It’s that time of year folks, be safe,” Adams said.

Those who ignore the burn ban and end up with an illegal fire may see it immediately extinguished. If fire agencies are required to respond to an illegal fire, the person responsible may end up on the hook for firefighting and even legal costs.

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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