Campfires, beach fires banned across Oregon

Officials are concerned about increased fire danger with 1 million eclipse visitors

A campfire. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

DONALD, Ore. (KOIN) — Campers at Champoeg State Park said they’re disappointed the Oregon State Parks has banned open flames and campfires across the state — including all beaches — but they also understand.

Park officials put yellow caution tape over the firepits to let people know they’re off limits.

Under the current fire ban, campfires and open flames are not allowed. The ban includes briquettes, tiki style torches and candles. Only fuel sources that can be turned off and on instantly — like propane stoves — are allowed right now. However, state officials said no propane fire rings are allowed at The Cove Palisades State Park and Silver Falls State Park.

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A fire pit at Champoeg State Park is taped off during a fire ban throughout the state, August 16, 2017 (KOIN)
A fire pit at Champoeg State Park is taped off during a fire ban throughout the state, August 16, 2017 (KOIN)

Many campers at Champoeg State Park brought firewood, hoping to sit around the campfire at night with family and friends.

“The s’mores, we can’t do s’mores with the grandkids,” camper Chrystal Shields from Maple Valley, Washington told KOIN 6 News. “We brought all the stuff so we might be doing it on a little burner thing.”

Steve Popkeys of Beaverton, who is camping with his daughter and son-in-law and their kids who live in New Jersey, had to figure out another plan for the ribs they were going to cook.

“I saw a sign that said no briquettes which makes it really hard to smoke ribs,” Popkeys said. “I was just going to smoke them slowly on the Webber for 6 hours and then we were going to eat them. We still are, but we will do them in the gas oven.”

Park officials said everything is just so dry right now that it wouldn’t take much to spark an accidental fire. With the state campgrounds completely booked for the eclipse the fire ban is for everyone’s safety, they said.

“As you look around the park and you see how brown and dry the grass is, we’re looking at tinder dry conditions and it’s just any errant spark could cause a fire at any moment, ” Park Ranger Dan Klug told KOIN 6 News. “So we’re just trying to protect our customers as well as well as the landscape.”

He said the park rangers at Champoeg State Park patrol day and night. Generally campers follow the restrictions. If they didn’t know about the bank it usually just takes a quick reminder not to have a fire.

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“In most cases people understand the situation and they want to take care of their parks as well,” Klug said.

But campers could be told to leave the park or face up to a $500 fine for having a campfire.

There is no word yet how long the fire ban will be in place at the state parks. Officials told KOIN 6 News they hope it will be brief.

The Oregon Department of Forestry declared it fire season in July, triggering restrictions on activities in forests protected by ODF.

Those restrictions, which apply to protected forestlands and land in a 1/8 mile radius, include a ban on tracer ammunition, exploding targets, fireworks and open-fires, except at designated locations.