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Growers consider wildfires when burning

Smoke causes complaints

by: Photo by Ken L. Klock - Reader Ken Klock, of Madras, submitted this photo of an alfalfa field north of Madras, displaying a colorful striped pattern. Those interested in submitting their exceptional photos can send them to 
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The open field burning season ends this week, but carrot vine burning begins next week and will last through October.
   Smoke Management Program manager Kristi Fisher said the program does take wildfire smoke into consideration.
   "Thursday and Friday, we didn't burn any fields, and we called a no-burn last week. We had an inversion and bad air quality. By all accounts, it's not going to be gone for at least another month. We're at the end of our season, but the start of when they burn vines," Fisher said.
   She said farmers had signed up to burn 9,900 acres of wheat and grass stubble, and 98 percent of that has been completed. The open field burn season lasts nine weeks.
   "We got a lot of complaints when there was especially a lot of wildfire smoke," Fisher said.
   Each day, she said she checks monitoring equipment for wind direction and ventilation indexes. "We do the exact same thing each day, but only get complaints when there are wildfires," she said.
   The vine burning is allowed Monday through Friday, from 11 to 2 p.m., and fires have to be out by 5 p.m.
   "Most field burns only take 20 minutes, and most are about 30 acres," she said.
   Jefferson County fire District No. 1 Fire Chief Brian Huff said the Smoke Management Program is run by a cooperative of growers.
   "We haven't had much wind to push the big wildfire smoke out of here," he observed.
   As for nonfarm burning restrictions, Huff said no backyard burning is allowed, but burn barrels can be used until 10 a.m.
   To view the air quality report for the area, including a report from the station in Madras, visit http://www.deq.state.or.us/aqi/index.aspx.