UPDATE at 10 a.m. 6-8: The Umatilla County Board of Commissioners has instituted a non-agricultural burn ban to go into effect at noon today. An agricultural burn ban will take effect on June 16.
PENDLETON – The Umatilla County Board of Commissioners has called an emergency meeting for today (Tuesday) at 9 a.m. The meeting will be to consider issuing a temporary ban on open burning in the county.
Normally, the county’s burn ban goes into effect on July 1 and extends into October. This year’s relative low humidity coupled with frequently strong winds is prompting the commissioners to begin work early.
On Monday alone, it’s reported that Umatilla County Fire District No. 1 responded to a fire on Interstate 82 and Echo Fire Department were called out to a blaze on Interstate 84. The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation have also announced an early ban on open burning that begins June 18.
In addition, the Oregon Department of Forestry has declared that at a minute after midnight wildfire season will officially begin for the Northeast Oregon District. The early start is due to a lack of spring moisture. That declaration places fire prevention restrictions on landowners, industrial logging, forest management, and the general public on lands within Umatilla, Wallowa, Baker, and Union counties and portions of Morrow, Malheur, and Grant counties. The area encompasses about 2 million protected acres. Normally, wildfire season begins in this area later in the month.