Burning Restrictions Still Enforced Across Willamette Valley

Since August 11, the Willamette Valley has been under a red flag warning for severe wildfire conditions. Consequently, all activities that could result in sparks are banned while the warning remains in effect. 

Such activities include, but are not limited to, campfires, waste burning, and using equipment such as lawnmowers or chainsaws which could result in a spark. With the state in flames, it’s important that the public maintains awareness of local ordinances and warnings before pursuing any activities that may put them in danger or cause additional fires.  

“The majority of our fire starts in the southern Willamette Valley are human-caused,” said Michael Curran, the West Oregon District Forester. Curran also recommended checking local government Facebook pages and contacting the Oregon Department of Forestry when unsure of restrictions currently in place.  

While many of these restrictions would traditionally vary by the local authority, the regulations in place are the same across Benton County at the moment. These include halts on: 

  • Campfires, including charcoal and cooking fires 
  • Grills and portable cooking stoves that use liquefied fuels are exempt 
  • For target shooting — exploding targets, tracer ammunition, and sky lanterns are all prohibited 
  • Mowing lawns or dried grass/plant matter 
  • Cultivation and harvest of agricultural crops is exempt with a permit 
  • Smoking 
  • Debris burning, including backyard burning without a permit 
  • Non-necessary agricultural burning 
  • This is qualified as burning unrelated to the growing or harvesting of crops; or the raising of fowl or animals. In Albany and the surrounding area, the burning of grass seed and cereal grain residue is still allowed with a permit. 
  • Necessary agricultural burning may be acceptable with a no-cost permit. To acquire one, contact the Oregon Department of Agriculture at 503-986-4701. 
  • Use of fireworks 
  • Off-road motor vehicles such as ATVs and motorcycles on “unimproved roads and areas that contain flammable vegetation.” 
  • All spark-emitting internal combustion engines are restricted under the same rules – that includes trucks, cars, and anything with a gasoline-powered engine. 
  • All vehicles must have a shovel and fire extinguisher, or at least one gallon of water. ATVs must have a functioning fire extinguisher. 
  • Chainsaw use 
  • Cutting, grinding, and welding of metal 

The following materials are never acceptable to burn, regardless of location, due to the damage to air quality they cause: 

  • Wet garbage 
  • Plastics 
  • Asbestos 
  • Wire insulation 
  • Automobile parts 
  • Asphalt 
  • Petroleum-treated materials, including petrochemicals such as gasoline 
  • Painted wood, or wood treated with creosote or pentachlorophenol 
  • Rubber, including tires 
  • Animal remains 
  • Animal or vegetable matter related to any part of the cooking process, from preparation to service 
  • All materials that emit dense smoke or noxious odors 

For more information on fire safety and burn guidelines, check out the DEQ’s outdoor burning guide. You can also contact the ODF for fire danger level updates at 541-929-6300 if you live in Benton, Pol, Lincoln, southern Yamhill or northern Douglas Counties.  

And as always, be prepared during wildfire season. Packing a bag with emergency water and food supplies for you and your family is highly encouraged, especially if you live near a current wildfire.  

Keep track of your local air quality, never burn anything without having equipment to put it out, and most of all exercise great care in your surroundings.