Union County Implements County Wide Burn Ban

Union County Board of Commissioners voted in an emergency session today to implement the County Wide Burn Ban/Regulated Use restrictions at the recommendation of the Union County Fire Defense Board. As specified in County Ordinance 2016-01, the commissioners may ban all fires outside incorporated cities within Union County. No fires of any kind are allowed except regulated agricultural field burning and gas barbeques.

Fire Defense Board Chief Larry Wooldridge stated that due to lingering drought conditions from 2015 and weather forecasts for the next 30 days indicating continuing hot and dry temperatures, the county’s exposure to extreme fire behavior is increased. Lower elevation fine fuels such as grasses and brush have cured due to recent dry weather and larger fuels such as branches and logs were already available due to the persisting drought conditions. Chief Wooldridge indicated that the Fire Defense Board will continue to monitor the conditions.

In addition to Union County fire restrictions, forest officials will implement Phase B public use restrictions at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, August 19, 2016 on the Umatilla and Wallowa Whitman National Forests due to high fire danger, the potential for human caused fires, and concern for public safety. The increased restrictions pertain to the use of campfires, smoking, chainsaws, internal combustion engines, and generators. Additional information regarding the forest restrictions can be found at the US Forest Service website.

Concern over long term drought conditions, forecasted hot and dry weather, availability of dry fuels and a concern for a potential lack of available firefighting resources justified the implementation of the Burn Ban/Regulated Use of the Burn Ordinance which will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, August 19, 2016. The ordinance may be read in its entirety on the county website at www.union-county.org.