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Portland metro fire agencies enact burn ban amid stretch of hot, dry weather

Backyard and open burns are banned due to the risk of wildfires.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ore. — With potentially record-setting temperatures in the forecast, fire agencies in the Portland metro area announced outdoor burn bans this week.

Clackamas County

Clackamas Fire announced a high-danger burn ban is in effect as of Wednesday morning. It will continue through Thursday, July 1.

The burn ban prohibits:

  • Backyard or open burning (yard debris, branches, etc.).
  • Agricultural burning (agricultural wastes, crops, etc.).
  • Any other land clearing, slash, stump, waste, debris, or controlled burning.

The burn ban does not prohibit:

  • Small outdoor cooking, warming, or recreational fires. These include portable or permanent fire pits and campfires, with a maximum of three feet in diameter and two feet in height, burning only dry, cut firewood.
  • Barbeque grills and smokers with briquettes, wood chips, pellets, or propane.

There may be more restrictive open burning rules within an Oregon Department of Forestry boundary.

Multnomah County

An outdoor burn ban is now in effect in all areas west of the Sandy River.

Washington County

All fire agencies in Washington County enacted a burn ban on Tuesday. 

Washington County fire agencies include Banks Fire District #13, Cornelius Fire Department, Forest Grove Fire Department, Gaston Rural Fire District, Hillsboro Fire & Rescue and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue. 

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The burn ban prohibits backyard or open burning, agricultural burning and any other land clearing, waste, debris or controlled burns. The burn ban does not prohibit small outdoor cooking, warming or recreational fires, like fire pits and campfires. Grills, smokers and other similar cooking appliances with clean, dry firewood, briquettes, wood chips, pellets, propane, natural gas, or similar fuels are also allowed. 

There may be more restrictive fire safety rules on and within 1/8-mile of Oregon Department of Forestry-protected land throughout Washington County. There may be restrictions on campfires, smoking, target shooting, powered equipment and motorized vehicles. 

Clark County

Starting at 12:01 a.m. Friday, all land clearing and residential burning in Clark County will be restricted until further notice.

The Fire Marshal also is rescinding all burning permits issued prior to the ban. Permits can be reissued or extended when the ban is lifted.

According to Clark County, in order to have predictable and consistent burn bans, Clark, Cowlitz and Skamania counties jointly implement a policy to ban outdoor burning from July 15 through Sept. 30 each year. Under certain conditions, however, a ban can begin sooner or end later.

The county says recreational campfires on forest lands are allowed only in improved fire pits in designated campgrounds, such as commercial campgrounds and local, county and state parks. On private land, recreational fires are permitted when built according to the following regulations:

  • Recreational fires must be in a metal-, stone- or masonry-lined fire pit such as those in improved campgrounds or available at home and garden stores.
  • Size may not exceed 3 feet in diameter by 2 feet in height.
  • Fires must be at least 25 feet from a structure or other combustible material and have at least 20 feet of clearance from overhead fuels such as tree limbs, patio covers or carports.
  • Fires must be attended at all times by a responsible person at least 16 years old who has the ability and tools to extinguish the fire. Tools include a shovel and either five gallons of water or a connected and charged water hose.
  • Portable outdoor fireplaces, also known as patio fireplaces, designed to burn solid wood should not be operated within 15 feet of a structure or combustible material and must always be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Completely extinguish recreational fires by covering them with water or moist soil and stirring with a shovel until all parts are cool to the touch.
  • Self-contained camp stoves are a safe and easy alternative to campfires.

With several wildfires already burning in the northwest, experts say we may be in for a busy fire season.