A Yachats homeowner was greeted by several fire engines on the street in front of his residence on Blodgett a couple of days ago, and no doubt wondered why they were there.
He learned that a neighbor had reported hearing a small explosion and had smoke drifting through her yard. As it turned out, the homeowner had been burning brush, branches and other yard debris and the fire got pretty big rather quickly.
The homeowner, as it turned out, was conducting a debris fire without a permit as required by law. He was counseled by Yachats Fire Chief Frankie Petrick who also added that the coastal environment has dried out to an extent that current conditions are more like late summer than late spring, and that the fire danger will remain very high until next fall when consistent rain returns.
Chief Petrick reminds the public that debris burns can get away from a property owner very quickly. Any fire can jump and spot itself well ahead of anyone trying to put it out by hand. She says open burning season is ending May 31st, this Saturday, because of the drying conditions. She added that any brush or tree limbs will be far less of a hazard if you just leave them on the tree or in the ground where they are. Deal with them in the fall. Or compost them.
As for campfires, Chief Petrick reminds us this will be a long, dry summer and that any fire that escapes a campfire, or even a back yard marshmellow roast, will do a lot of damage before it’s put out. She says campfires, whether in the backyard or in the wild, should be constructed so sparks and flames don’t ignite anything outside of the fire itself. She says first dig a medium shallow hole in the ground and then clear the area outward to ten feet. She says ring the fire pit with large rocks and place a screen of some sort over the fire to reduce the size of sparks or flaming materials that might drift up and land on nearby trees or brush. And, of course, do not create a campfire directly under a tree. Also, keep a campfire away from camping equipment and any woody debris or pine needles.