Wildfires Tripled, Corvallis Postpones Burning Season

This season, wildfires across Oregon have tripled, in part due to dry conditions. And the Oregon Department of Forestry said people planning to burn in their yard need to be prepared. 

The City of Corvallis postponed backyard burning, and Benton County Sheriff’s office posted two warnings on Facebook regarding the high fire danger. Salem has also issued a burn ban within the city for the week. 

The NOAA NWS Weather Prediction Center said that Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington are experiencing a period of dry weather and are expected to continue to do so. Adding to that, winds and low humidity further elevate the fire risk. 

We’ve Already Had Fires 

The ODF said that this spring they have put out 70 fires that burned 402 acres, and almost half were due to backyard burns. Normally by April 13 there are around 24 fires burning 225 acres. 

Officials expect fire danger to increase, even though many places have a burn season that typically starts in June or July. 

“Just because fire season has not been declared does not mean fire danger does not exist,” ODF Fire Prevention Coordinator Tom Fields said in a public statement. “The window of opportunity to clean up around homes and dispose of woody debris in a safe manner is narrowing each year. Now is the time to reassess and wait for better conditions.” 

Those who want to burn usually have a number to call to see if it is allowed where they’re located. Typically, if it is dry and windy, burning will probably not be on the table. 

Fields said that there are many places where the chance to burn this season has already passed. 

Burning in Corvallis 

Even when the city is not under a burn ban, Corvallis asks that residents recycle instead of burn. But if you must, it is regulated 

Within city limits, the burn season does not start until April 14 and is either set for 14 designated “burn days” or until June 14, whichever happens first. These burn days are determined based on what the environmental conditions are that particular day. For more information and to read about the city regulations, click here. 

The burn advisory updates their message every morning by 8:15 a.m. and can be reached at 541-766-6971. 

ODF Approved Practices 

If and when it is safe and necessary to do so, here are some good practices for backyard burning from the ODF to keep in mind. 

– Keep burn piles in open spaces and away from structure, including trees or power lines 

– Make smaller, more manageable piles (around 4’x4’) 

– Cover large piles to keep the material dry and able to be burned at a later date 

– Check with the local fire agency before burning 

– Don’t burn when it is windy 

– Create a perimeter around the pile (3 feet cleared to the soil) to help keep the fire contained 

– Make sure a shovel and a readied hose are handy 

– Ensure the fire is out before leaving 

– Return every so often to check there is no heat or smoke in the burn pile 

If You Received a Warning 

The Benton County Sheriff’s Office posted on their Facebook page that residents of Benton County may have received an incomplete alert on April 14. The alert was supposed to say, “A warning has been issued by the National Weather Service for increased fire risk through the weekend. Please do not call 9-1-1 unless you have an emergency or see smoke. Visit the National Weather Service Watches, Warnings, and Advisories page for updates.”    

By: Hannah Ramsey