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Open and barrel burning is the second leading cause of wildfires in Oregon according to the office of the State Fire Marshal. Rural/Metro runs multiple calls during the spring and fall time for outdoor burns that have escaped the control of the landowner. Some of these fires have reached anywhere from small fires to large multi-acre fires. What a lot of people don’t realize is that grass can dry out quickly and cause a fire to spread. How can the community help prevent these fires from escaping? Here are some tips from Rural/Metro that will help you keep your outdoor fire under control:

  • Keep burn piles small in nature. If you have a large pile make a smaller pile for burning and take items from the larger pile and throw them into the smaller, more controllable burning pile.
  • Make sure you burn in clear open areas. Avoid burning within fifty feet of structures, away from trees, power poles and power lines. Make sure you burn in an area that has been cleaned down to the dirt to reduce the threat of catching grass or other material on fire.
  • Have water on hand in case your fire does start to get out of control.
  • Be mindful of windy days. Wind can and will cause your fire to get out of control very quickly. Try not to burn in the late afternoon where wind will typically pick up in this area.
  • If your fire does get out of control, don’t wait to call 911. If you wait the fire will grow much larger and increase the risk of possible injury to yourself and others.
  • Always follow burning regulations as put forth by the Josephine County Public Health Department and DEQ ensuring that it is a burn day.
  • Never leave your burn piles unattended. Extinguish them all the way every time before you leave.

Woodstoves and fireplaces are great ways to heat a home and save money while doing it, especially when the cold weather starts to set in. This change in weather can also bring with it a danger lurking within your chimney. In the last two weeks Rural/Metro Fire Department has responded to 3 flue fires in private residences. Flue fires are especially dangerous because the fire can spread to the attic area of a home within minutes. The best way to deal with a flue fire is to first know how to prevent them. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (www.csia.org), here are some ways to help prevent flue fires:

•Use seasoned woods only (dryness is more important than hard wood versus soft wood considerations)

•Build smaller, hotter fires that burn more completely and produce less smoke

•Never burn cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, trash or Christmas trees; these can spark a chimney fire

•Install stovepipe thermometers to help monitor flue temperatures where wood stoves are in use, so you can adjust burning practices as needed

•Have the chimney professionally inspected and cleaned on a regular basis, at least once a year, preferably in the fall season before you start to use a fire place or woodstove.

If you have a flue fire you should immediately call 911. If you can do so safely, close the damper on the wood stove and immediately evacuate the home until the arrival of the fire department. After you have a flue fire, do not use the fireplace or woodstove until it has been checked by a professional.