Humans started majority of weekend wildfires in Oregon

Humans started majority of weekend wildfires in Oregon
Fire on Highway 126. Photo by Shawn Litson

COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. - Dozens of wildfires kept crews busy this weekend, including two in the South Lane County Fire and Rescue district that burned a combined 10 acres.

Wildfire managers across the state battled at least 65 wildfires over the weekend. People burning debris were responsible for at least 36 of the 65 wildfires reported, according to Keep Oregon Green Association.

The South Lane fires remain under investigation.

Firefighters quickly contained a fire in the 76000 block of Martin Creek Road. A second fire in the 75000 block of London Road kept firefighters busy until Saturday evening.

Oregon Department of Forestry
and Weyerhaeuser Inc. assisted South Lane Fire with ground crews, water trucks and a helicopter.

The fires remain under investigation.

South Lane firefighters said a lack of rain this past spring has made fire conditions extreme earlier than usual.

"We're pulling firefighters from other agencies to help," said Craig Pettinger with Oregon Department of Forestry. "It feels like August, not May."

Many fire districts have temporarily suspended backyard and debris burning. Keep Oregon Green recommends you contact your fire district or the local Oregon Department of Forest for current conditions and restrictions.

The tips for safe backyard burning include:

  • A charged hose must reach to and all away around the burn pile.
  • The 10-foot cleared area around the pile should be kept wet at all times.
  • Use a shovel or rake handy. 
  • If burning is allowed, keep your burn pile small adding to it as it burns down. 
  • Stay with the fire at all times. 
  • Only yard debris is legal to burn - no garbage or lumber.
  • Once the debris is burned, soak the area of and around the burn. 
  • Check on it frequently to make sure no sparks remain.