With the heat comes state of emergency, burn bans, resources

With the heat comes state of emergency, burn bans, resources

PORTLAND, Ore. - Gov. John Kitzhaber's declaration of a state of emergency means additional firefighting resources, especially for Southern Oregon that's dealing with a big wildfire.
 
But even in Portland, with the high heat and low humidity, grass and other brush are dry, which could cause even small fires to quickly spread.

The Portland Fire Bureau has extra personnel and four brush units ready to go. Those trucks are able to go where their big rigs can't, and they're equipped to get to and fight a quickly spreading brush fire. With the trucks, firefighters are able to drive and pump water at the same time.

They already went out on 12 small grass fires Thursday and another one Friday morning. They are paying close attention to places like Rocky Butte, Mount Tabor and Forest Park.

The fire bureau also has additional personnel on duty with special training on wildfires.

While they will always respond, they say residents can help by stepping on a cigarette butt if they see one and clearing vegetation around their houses.

"Let's say the house next door catches fire, if your gutters are dirty, your roof is dirty, you have old wood piled up next to your house, if your porch is wood, you have to be careful where some of those fire brands can land, and then your own house can catch fire," said Jim Kirkendall with the Portland Fire Bureau.

The Portland Fire Bureau also wants residents to abide by the burn ban now in place. That means no campfires, no outdoor fireplaces and no recreational fires. The only type of flame residents are allowed right now is a barbecue.

"A large percentage of the fires we go to are human caused because of improper disposal of briquettes, not paying attention to fire, fire brands blowing up in the wind, catching the grass next to your fence (on fire) – and (it) goes from there," Kirkendall said.

There was a close call in Battle Ground, Wash. Friday afternoon. People trying to burn an underground beehive started a grass fire. Because of the heat and dry conditions, the fire spread to a barn and caused some minor damage. Nobody was hurt but a burn ban is also in effect in Clark County.