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Fire officials OK backyard burns

Safety -- Homeowners need to call hotline before lighting up to make sure conditions are safe

The recent wet spell pompted local fire officials to open backyard burning this week, meaning it's safe to burn appropriate yard materials.

Backyard burning season generally lasts until December, but the Department of Environmental Quality determines daily if that day is open or closed to burning based on air quality conditions.

To determine if it is a burn day call the backyard burning hotline at 503-992-3242 and listen to the pre-recorded burn message, the burn hot line is updated daily by 9 a.m. with the conditions and closures for that day.

Local fire officials note that DEQ can levy substantial fines if the burning is in violation of out door burning rules. For information on air quality regulations please check with local officials or the DEQ website at http://www.deq.state.or.us/aq/

In addition, officials ask that before you burn, you take a few safety measures:

• Place your burn pile so it is well away from any structures, fences, trees or brushy areas that can burn. A 20-foot rule is appropriate for most burn piles.

• Create an established fire break around your pile where there is no combustible vegetation. Scraping the ground of all vegetation all the way to the bare dirt around your pile will help prevent the fire from spreading to unwanted areas.

• Ensure the material you wish to burn is dry; cover your burn pile with a tarp during rainy times so your burn pile is dry when you are ready to burn. Wet material creates unnecessary smoke that can be a nuisance to your neighbors. The DEQ prohibits any burning which is considered a nuisance to the community.

• Only burn appropriate materials. Backyard burning is for yard debris only, such as limbs, pruning materials from shrubs and other natural vegetation. It is considered illegal to burn combustible debris such as trash, furniture, or lumber materials.

• Agricultural burning is burning done as a result of an agricultural operation, such as limbs from pruning an orchard. You have to make a substantial income from the materials you burn in order to be considered agricultural burning.

• Attend to your burn pile at all times. Be prepared with a garden hose and firefighting tools such as a shovel, or rake.

For additional information or questions call the Forest Grove Fire and Rescue Administrative Office at 503-992-3240.