Burn bans in effect as summer temperatures rise

Fire fighters say many fires are human caused

A burn ban sign in 2016 (TVF&R)
A burn ban sign in 2016 (TVF&R)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Temperatures have reached the 90s this week up and down the Willamette Valley and it’s even hotter to the east.

With this elevated heat, there are several fires burning in Oregon, and a crackdown on fire safety from local fire departments.

The Washington County Fire Defense Board and Oregon Department of Forestry issued a burn ban effective July 29 and Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue added areas it serves in Multnomah, Clackamas and Yamhill Counties as well.

“In this area, fires don’t start by lightning very often, so the fires we have are human caused,” said Matt Johnston with Forest Grove Fire and Rescue.

TVF&R service area map

The ban includes all backyard or open burning, all agricultural burning and all land clearing or slash burning.

Recreational fires including fire pits and outdoor fireplaces are not banned at this time, but TVF&R will extend its ban if conditions become worse.

“It’s very important for people to be very aware of what they’re doing, aware of their surroundings,” Johnston said.

Fire departments are also increasing training and practicing to attack fires from the sky.

Kristen Van Dyke shows fire weather warning areas. (KOIN)
Kristen Van Dyke shows fire weather warning areas. (KOIN)

Doug Hodges is no stranger to fighting fires from the seat of a single engine air tanker, he’s been at it for 15 years. Now he’s training others to help out.

“I can get to the fire at the first report of smoke,” Hodges said.

A plane like his is able to get closer to a blaze, holding up to 800 gallons of flame retardant.

“They’re small but they’re a little bit more maneuverable than the big tankers,” Hodges said.

Washington State currently has a statewide burn ban, set to expire at the end of September.

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