A ban on all open and backyard burning will take effect Friday in Benton County and will run through Oct. 15 or longer, depending on weather and fire danger levels.
The Oregon Department of Forestry and the Benton County Fire Defense Board announced the ban, which aims to reduce the occurrence of open debris burns escaping control.
The open burning restrictions overlap with the current air-quality rules set forth by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Those rules already forbid open burning within 3 miles of cities over 1,000 in population and 6 miles from cities over 50,000 in population after June 15. These burn restrictions expand the geographical area to include all of Benton County, as well as neighboring Linn County.
“Along with this ban on residential burning we hope that the public has an increased awareness of wildfires,” said Rick Smith, Benton County Fire Defense Board chief. "Now is the time for spring property maintenance.”
Smith urged homeowners to create defensible space around their property by removing dead vegetation, keeping grass and brush mowed short and landscape plants green and well-watered.
“It can make the difference between losing and saving a structure in the event of a wildfire,” he said.
Philomath Fire & Rescue responded recently to two wildland fires. Lt. Bryan Crocker said both occurred June 2 and both started from burn piles that got away from homeowners and grew to about 1 acre in size.
The wildland fires were both in the Monroe vicinity. Philomath was the first on scene for the second fire because Monroe firefighters were still on the first call. The second fire led to a second alarm because of its proximity to houses, Crocker said.
Rural fire agencies and the Oregon Department of Forestry have the authority to enforce and regulate the burn ban. Under Oregon Revised Statute Chapter 477, the department may issue citations for violation of restrictions on burning.
For more information on the open burning restrictions as well as advice on safe debris disposal, contact the nearest Department of Forestry office or the local fire department.