CTUIR issues public use restrictions due to fire Preparedness Level 5

Posted by Communications on 9/10/2020 4:29:00 PM

MISSION – The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) urge residents of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and surrounding areas to exercise extreme caution with regard to any activities that could create a fire risk.

To that end, the Umatilla Tribal Fire Department (UTFD) will implement public use restrictions, or Regulated Use Closure, effective 12:01 a.m. on Friday September 11, 2020, on lands protected by UTFD. The prevention of human caused fires is the primary objective of these additional fire prevention measures.

The Regulated Use Closure will affect private, state, county, and municipal forestlands protected by CTUIR and BIA.

“We need people to be extra careful in the outdoors, in the forests or in dry grass anywhere, now through October at least,” said Rob Burnside, Director of the CTUIR Department of Public Safety. “We can't afford any accidental, human-caused fires.”

Conditions across the region have shifted to a much warmer and drier weather pattern as we reach the height of summer. Additionally, the State of Oregon and the nation are now at a Fire Preparedness Level 5 which means there are no resources available to fight fires now and in the foreseeable future.

The following restrictions will be in effect as of 12:01 a.m., Friday, September 11:

• Possession of the following firefighting equipment is required while traveling, except on state highways, county roads and driveways: one shovel and one gallon of water or one 2 ½ pound or larger fire extinguisher.

• Open fires are prohibited, including campfires, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires. Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are allowed.

• Smoking is prohibited except in vehicles on improved roads or in boats on the water.

• Non-Industrial chainsaw use is prohibited between the hours of 12:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Chainsaw use is permitted at all other hours, if conducted in a cleared area and if a water supply is present. A one hour fire watch is required after cutting operations are completed.

• Cutting, grinding and welding of metal is prohibited between the hours of 12:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Cutting, grinding and welding of metal is permitted at all other hours, if conducted in a cleared area and if a water supply is present. A one hour fire watch is required after cutting, welding or grinding operations are completed.

• Mowing of dried and cured grass with power driven equipment is prohibited, between the hours of 12:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., except for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.

• Any electric fence controller in use shall be: 1) Listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory or be certified by the Department of Consumer and Business Services; and 2) Operated in compliance with manufacturer’s instructions.

• Use of fireworks is prohibited.

Other general fire season restrictions are:

• Debris burning is prohibited.

• Use of exploding targets is prohibited.

• Use of tracer ammunition or any bullet with a pyrotechnic charge in its base is prohibited.

• The use of sky lanterns is prohibited throughout the year in Oregon.

“These are unprecedented times and we must take every precaution to protect the land and reduce risk to human life,” said CTUIR Board of Trustees Chair Kat Brigham. “Please follow the precautions and stay safe.”

More than 500 square miles within the State of Oregon are on fire. There are five “Preparedness Levels” that generally describe the fire danger, activity and preparedness for wildfire suppression by responsible agencies locally, regionally, and nationally. We are currently at LEVEL 5.

LEVEL 1 — Minimal large fire activity nationally. Most geographic areas have low to moderate fire danger. There is little or no commitment of national resources.        

LEVEL 2 — Several geographic areas are experiencing high to extreme fire danger. Wildland fire activity is increasing and large fires are occurring in one or more geographic areas. Minimal mobilization of resources from other geographic areas is occurring. The potential exists for mobilizing additional resources from other geographic areas.      

LEVEL 3 — Two or more geographic areas are experiencing wildland or prescribed fire activities requiring a major commitment of national resources. Additional resources are being ordered and mobilized through the National Interagency Coordination Center (NICC). Incident management teams are committed in two or more areas, or 275 crews are committed nationally. 

LEVEL 4 — Two or more geographic areas are experiencing incidents requiring Type 1 teams. Competition exists for resources between geographic areas. When 425 crews or five Type 1 teams are committed nationally. 

LEVEL 5 — Several geographic areas are experiencing major incidents that have the potential to exhaust all agency fire resources. When 550 crews are committed nationally.

The Regulated Use Closure, on CTUIR lands and private, state, county, municipal, and tribal lands protected by the CTUIR and BIA, may change with improved weather conditions and availability of fire suppression resources at a later time. Any change in status will be posted.

To report a violation of the Regulated Use Closure, please contact Umatilla Tribal Dispatch at 541-278-0550.