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Fire danger: Good news out of Blackburn, but Labor Day brings new concerns

Two steps forward, one step back.

That’s one way to look at the good news about the Blackburn fire, now mostly contained, countered by a worrisome incident Tuesday morning just a few miles west.

As noted in Tuesday’s release by Oregon Department of Forestry, “the last several days of hard work by fire crews has resulted in the lifting of all evacuation levels by the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office and a reduction of the Mt. Hood National Forest’s Area Closure. The team’s fire behavior analyst stated that the fine fuels (grass and small branches) are starting to dry out from the recent moisture and are becoming more combustible. Any burning has a low possibility of spreading but it will make detecting hot areas easier, allowing a more complete mop-up.”

At about 9 a.m. Tuesday, firefighters in Wy’east District responded to a campfire along the water pipeline near Odell that got out of control. A citation was issued, and responders were able clear the scene by about 10:15.

Fortunately, the fire was caught before it could do too much damage, but luck and human intervention are different in every situation, and it could have been far worse.

Labor Day Weekend is upon us, and with it comes an increase in campers, hikers and other visitors to the forests.

Travelers are reminded that forest roads into the Blackburn area fire are still closed due to heavy fire traffic. Listings of the road, trail and campground area closures may be found at www.fs.usda.gov.

Recreationists should not relax in light of the recent rains. It only takes hours for the fine fuels (grasses, twigs, etc.) to dry out and become tinder again.

Fire protection is prevention. Whether you are heading into the woods or staying home, it’s good to remember measures of protection. Residents may obtain information from the Oregon Department of Forestry or local fire departments on steps to take for their property to survive a wildfire.

But above all, this weekend, remember: “Only you are responsible for your campfire.” Make sure it is dead out, and leave your campsite cleaner than you found it.

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