Fire, ODF, Tillamook State Forest

Fire season comes to an early close

Photo from the scene of a May 13 fire north of Banks provided by Banks Fire District 13

FOREST GROVE – Just over two and a half months since it was officially declared, fire season is over in the Northwest Oregon Forest Protective Association, which includes the Forest Grove, Tillamook, and Astoria Districts of the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Officially terminated at 1 a.m. on Tuesday, September 17, the season began on July 1, though many small fires had already been cropping up that spring and early summer.

In 1997, the agency terminated the fire season one day earlier, on September 16, 1997.

With the close of fire season, all fire season and public use restrictions are lifted for all three weather zones in the region.

Beginning Monday, September 23, the local Oregon Department of Forestry will move back to an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. office schedule as staff move into winterizing engines and equipment, completing yard maintenance, and preparing for fall burning programs, according to an email from ODF district foresters.  

“We appreciate everyone’s partnership and cooperation throughout fire season,” an email signed by the district foresters of the Tillamook, Forest Grove, and Astoria District Foresters said.

Burning permits are required for burning logging slash, and can be obtained by calling (503) 357-2191.

Within areas protected by Forest Grove Fire & Rescue or the Banks Fire District, backyard burning is not allowed until October 1, when Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality will open the season for backyard burning.

Agricultural burning — at a for-profit farm — is now allowed, according to Forest Grove Fire & Rescue, who provided a list of safety tips and advice for burning:

“- Making a clear dirt fire break all around your burn pile. This dirt area should be twice as wide as the pile is tall.

– Locate burn piles away from things that can allow them to spread out of control. Large agricultural and forestry burn piles need at least 25’ of space, and maybe more depending on the pile size.

– Only debris from a for profit agricultural operation can be burned in order to be considered ag burning. Yard or property debris cannot be burned in rural areas outside of the DEQ burn season.”

For more information on backyard burning, call Forest Grove Fire & Rescue at (503) 992-3240 or the Banks Fire District at (503) 324-6262.

While the season is ending early. and with few major fires locally, here are a few of the moments in the season that ended up in our newspaper:

In 2018, Alaskan wildfire fighters helped in fires that torched more than 225,000 acres in Oregon. In 2019, the Oregon Department of Forestry returned the favor.

Multiple agencies, including Forest Grove Fire & Rescue, Banks Fire District 13, and prison crews from South Fork Forest Camp and more responded to a motor home fire along Highway 6 that sparked a small brush fire near Gales Creek Camp.

Six small wildfires near Vernonia were sparked by lightning at the end of August.

Crews from Forest Grove Fire & Rescue battled a small fire on NW Stringtown Road, but another enemy made the fight difficult: Yellowjackets.

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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