Though wildfires often occur naturally, human behavior contributes to many of the destructive fires here in the northwest. While exploring our wonderful forests, it is crucial that we police our behaviors to keep from contributing to the damaging results of wild fires. Here are the top 5 ways humans cause forest fires and how prevent them!
1. Debris burning – Follow all local regulations regarding outdoor burning. Be aware of how the weather might impact your burn: if it is particularly dry or windy the conditions could be more dangerous. Always keep your fire small and under control. Completely extinguish burn barrels after use.
2. Equipment use – Maintain your vehicles’ cooling systems so they do not overheat and cause a fire. If you are using gas powered equipment make sure that is has a functioning spark arrestor. Wait until your vehicle or equipment has fully cooled off before adding fuel and always have a fire extinguisher handy in case of an accident.
3. Campfires – Call your local forestry department to account for any current restrictions; having a campfire when you are not supposed to can come with a hefty fine! Don’t use any kind of accelerants (such as gas or oil) to start your fire. Never leave your fire unattended and fully extinguish it when finished.
4. Smoking – Always dispose of cigarette butts properly and never throw them carelessly to the ground. If you are driving or hiking, make sure to have a proper receptacle handy for your trash, which include cigarettes. A cigarette can smolder for hours and cause a fire very easily.
5. Juveniles – Keep matches and lighters out the hands of youngsters. Use time around open flame as an opportunity to teach children about the dangers of forest fires and importance of protecting our beautiful landscape.
For more information regarding Oregon’s efforts to reduce the number of fires caused by humans, visit the Oregon Department of Forestry.