Fire danger prompts forest restrictions

Until further notice, smoking and fires are subject to tighter rules in the Umatilla National Forest.

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— Restrictions on campfires and smoking are in effect on the Umatilla National Forest starting today, forest officials said.

In a release, Deputy Fire Staff Officer Chris Johnson said restrictions are being implemented due to increased fire danger, hot and dry weather conditions, and concern for public safety.

"Though we've had a fairly quiet fire season on the forest so far, the continued hot, dry weather conditions have cured fine fuels and increased the potential for wildfire," said Johnson. "Fires that do occur become more difficult to control as we head into August."

The restrictions are:

Building and tending of open campfires, including charcoal briquettes, cooking fires and warming fires are prohibited, except in fire pits at designated recreation sites. Pressurized gas barbecues, stoves and space-heating devices are allowed.

Smoking is only allowed within enclosed vehicles, buildings, developed recreation sites or when stopped in an area cleared of all flammable material.

At this time firewood cutting is still allowed, though land managers are anticipating the need for additional restrictions in the near future. Woodcutters are reminded to check daily for a change in restrictions. All forest users should carry an axe, shovel and an 8-ounce or higher capacity fire extinguisher when visiting the forest.

Restrictions will be updated on the toll-free message line at 1-877-958-9663.

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