Despite the freeze warnings in the area, wildland firefighters spent much of Thursday afternoon extinguishing three fires that were the result of escaped debris burns.
According to Kyle Reed, a spokesman for the Douglas Forest Protective Association, escaped debris burns are a major cause of wildfires within the area, especially during the shoulder seasons of fire season. Over the last 10 years, 115 escaped burns have torched about 425 aces.
The first of Thursday’s fires was reported at 11:15 a.m. in the 1000 block of Safari Road, about one mile northwest of Winston. The fire burned about an acre of grass and brush before crews from the DFPA, the Winston-Dillard Fire Department and Douglas County Fire District No. 2 stopped the spread of the fire.
About 15 minutes later, firefighters from the Camas Valley Rural Fire Department and the DFPA responded to a fire in the 17000 block of Highway 42, about 14 miles southwest of Winston. That fire burned less than a quarter of an acre before crews extinguished the fire.
At approximately 1:15 p.m., a fire was reported in the 4000 block of Olalla Road, eight miles southwest of Winston. When crews arrived, the fire was already several acres in size and was burning grass, brush and heavy debris from a land clearing project. Crews from the DFPA, the Winston-Dillard Fire Department, the Tenmile Rural Fire Department and the Lookinggass Rural Fire Department eventually stopped the spread of the flames after the blaze had burned six acres.
Reed said even though fire season is over, landowners may be held liable for fire suppression costs and associated damages resulting from escaped debris burns.
Reed said those interested in containing a debris burn should contact their local fire department to see if burns are allowed. He also recommended building several smaller burn piles instead of a single larger pile.
More information about debris burns can be found at dfpa.net or by contacting the DFPA or a local fire department.