Wildfire Safety Begins with All of Us


With experts predicting a hot, dry summer, the Oregon State Fire Marshal offers key ways Oregonians can prevent wildfire

STATEWIDE – Each year, Oregon experiences hundreds of thousands of acres burned by wildfire. In 2018, we had 897,263 acres burn in Oregon. Unfortunately, humans are the leading cause.

People cause about 70% of wildfires in Oregon. Often what starts as a small spark can quickly threaten Oregonians, our homes, and our communities.

Local fire agencies, groups like Keep Oregon Green, and state and federal partners are asking Oregonians to take extra precautions this year.  We need everyone to do their part to prevent a wildfire and take steps to protect our lives, homes, and beloved natural areas from the devastating effects of wildfire.

Keeping Your Home Safer from Wildfire

You can reduce fire risk at home by creating defensible space around your residence and other structures. 

  • Maintain a five-foot, fire-free area closest to the home using non-flammable landscaping material and fire-resistant plants.
  • Keep your roofs, gutters, and eaves clear of all leaves, pine needles and other flammable debris.
  • Prune low-hanging branches 6 to 10 feet from the ground.
  • Keep grass kept short and green.
  • Remove dead vegetation a minimum of 30 feet around homes and other structures.

Fire Prevention

Oregon is known for its beauty, and Oregonians are known for our love of the outdoors. Whether you live in an urban or a rural community, we can all do our part to prevent wildfire in our homes and communities. There are a few easy ways you can help to prevent fire in your community. 

  • Always check on local regulations what activities are restricted or banned due to fire dangers.
  • Lawnmowers, saws, and other power equipment can often spark a wildfire. Some local regulations outline activities that are restricted or banned due to local weather conditions.
  • Mow grass early in the morning and keep your equipment in good working order.
  • Please don’t do any outdoor burns. State agencies have asked people in Oregon to voluntarily curtail outdoor burning to reduce the respiratory effects during the COVID-19 pandemic. Multnomah County has also requested people refrain from recreational burning.
  • Check to see if campfires are allowed at your camping destinations.
    • Always carry and bucket and shovel.
    • Use designated campgrounds with established fire pits, if possible.
    • Keep your campfires small and manageable.
    • Put your campfires out completely before you leave and go to bed. Remember: if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.

Be Prepared

• Prepare your family by being familiar with “Ready, Set, Go” emergency evacuation levels and signing up for emergency alerts in your county.  Remember, if you feel threatened by wildfire, do not wait for an official evacuation order.
• Develop or update your breathing plan if you have asthma or other lung and heart conditions. Be sure to consult your health care provider.
• Review the Oregon Health Authority’s “Hazy, smoky air: Do you know what to do?” fact sheet when smoke fills the air.

Lastly, this season all of us and our communities are facing additional burdens from COVID-19. Working together, we can reduce the burden on firefighters, who will need to take additional precautions to ensure the safety of all responders when wildfires impact our lands, resources, and property.

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About Author

Rudy Owens is the Public Affairs Specialist for the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM). The OSFM's mission is to protect citizens, their property, and the environment from fire and hazardous materials.

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