Equipment the most common cause of wildfires for Vale BLM

VALE, OR – (Release from Vale-BLM) As Oregon reopens and the Memorial Day holiday weekend approaches, Vale District Bureau of Land Managementwould like to remind the public to exercise caution with fire, heat sources and anything that can produce a spark.

May is Wildfire Awareness Month and Vale District wildland fire personnel have already responded to four human-caused wildfires this year. The North Alkali Creek fire was caused by an exploding target and the Jonesboro Fire was caused by a car fire. The causes of the 67-acre Agate Field Fire near Succor Creek Road and the Basque Fire off Hwy. 95 are still being investigated.

“Recent rainy weather has helped lessen fire danger,” said Al Crouch, fire mitigation and education specialist for Vale BLM. “However, light fuels like grasses and brush can dry quickly with a little sunshine and wind, becoming capable of catching fire. Please exercise caution, especially in the lower elevations where fuels conditions are drier overall.”

Although the weather outlook for the Memorial Day weekend shows average temperatures, fire conditions this summer are predicted to be hotter and drier than normal. Higher-than-usual large fire risk is anticipated in sections of Oregon and eastern Washington as summer progresses.

“Equipment is the leading human cause of wildfires on the Vale District, either through mechanical failure or operator error,” Crouch said. “As you begin the outdoor season, check your vehicles, generators, and other equipment used for camping to ensure it is functioning properly before visiting public lands. Also, when using trailers, ensure safety chains and other equipment will not drag on the road, and tires are properly inflated. Keep motorized equipment, vehicles and other off-road machines off dry grass.”  

Learn how to prevent equipment-related wildfires, properly extinguish a campfire and more at www.smokeybear.com.

The public plays a valuable role in preventing wildfires. The national average of human-caused wildfires compromises 87 percent of all wildfire occurrences each year. Most of these fires can be prevented. Please help keep our firefighters, our communities, and our natural resources safe.

Visitors to public lands should be aware that it is illegal to leave a campfire unattended at any time, even if it is in a designated fire ring. Also practice these campfire safety tips:

  • Don’t burn when windy. Fires can get out of control quickly under these conditions.
  • Keep your fires small and contained with a metal or rock ring. This keeps them easier to control and minimizes flying embers. 
  • Select the right spot. Avoid putting fires near tents and other camping equipment and especially away from dry vegetation. A minimum of 10 feet of clearance is recommended. 
  • Always make sure your campfire is “dead out”. This means cold and wet. 

Also keep in mind that fireworks, exploding targets, and tracer and incendiary ammunition are prohibited on public lands managed by the BLM. Spark-producing targets such as rocks and metal can also start a wildfire.

These tips can help ensure a safe and enjoyable recreational shooting experience on BLM-managed public lands:

  • Discharging or using firearms, weapons, or fireworks is not allowed on developed recreation sites and areas except at sites specifically designated for that purpose.
  • Never shoot from or over any road or highway.
  • Always use a safe backdrop.
  • Do not attach targets to plants or place targets against rocks, plants, or solid objects.  It is illegal to deface or destroy trees, signs, outbuildings, or other objects on federal lands.
  • Be sure to pack out all litter, targets, shell casings, debris and trash.
  • Cross-country travel is not permitted outside of OHV Open Area boundaries, so please stay on designated routes.