The Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District (District) has made the difficult decision to keep outdoor debris burning closed for the remainder of the spring burning season. Outdoor debris burning is now scheduled to reopen in the fall, after the fire season ends.
Deschutes County fire departments closed burning on April 10, 2020 when the impacts of the COVID pandemic were not fully known. Fire departments were seeing an increase in escaped fires as a result of outdoor debris burning, and were concerned about the health impacts of smoke on vulnerable populations. Also, in response to the “Stay Home, Save Lives” Executive Order to reduce the effects of the COVID-19 virus, a coalition of state agencies asked Oregonians to voluntarily refrain from conducting outdoor burning. The agencies making this request included: The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office, Oregon Department of Agriculture, and the Oregon Health Authority.
When Deschutes County’s plan for Phase 1 reopening was approved, the District researched options for possibly allowing open burning to resume. The District contacted Deschutes County Health Services Department and other local fire protection agencies seeking input. After receiving input and recommendations from local and state health professionals, along with other fire agencies, it became apparent that it would be difficult to open outdoor debris burning without impacting vulnerable populations. The District also considered that there were only 10 days remaining before fire season begins on June 1st. Extended weather forecasts predict windy days and increasing dryness that would have further limited the number of allowed burning days.
The District understands that this decision will impact many residents who have been waiting for the opportunity to burn woody debris. Residents are encouraged to continue to do their spring clean up and store piles at least 25 feet away from buildings if possible. Residents may also dispose of woody debris during the Fire Free event which ends Sunday May 24th. For more information about Fire Free events go to: https://www.firefree.org/firefreeevents/