Human causes lead fire starts on Mt. Hood this summer

fire burns in the distance along a forested river bank at night

SANDY, Ore.  – August 14, 2018 – Humans, not nature, are responsible for the majority of wildland fires on Mt. Hood National Forest.

Of thirty wildfires reported this year, only one was started by lightning.

Human causes can include everything from spark-throwing equipment vehicles or equipment to improperly-disposed cigarettes, but one major hazard this summer has been abandoned campfires. Fire personnel have extinguished more than 200 abandoned campfires on the forests in the past few weeks.

Target shooting has also emerged as another source of sparks driving wildfires on the Mt. Hood National Forest this summer.

Camping, target shooting, ATV use, and smoking outdoors are among a number of potentially spark-generating activities that are restricted on the forest, until further notice.

“Dry fuel conditions on the Mt. Hood National Forest are well ahead of historical trends,” Dirk Shupe, Assistant Forest Fire Management Officer for the forest, said. “Some visitors think they can ignore the Public Use Restrictions in place as weather changes and temperatures temporarily decrease, however, just one spark can ignite quickly and start a wildfire in these conditions.”

four people standing in front of Timberline Lodge

Members of the Northwest Area Fire Prevention Education Team stand outside Timberline Lodge, located on the Mt. Hood National Forest, in an undated 2018 photo. The majority of wildfires on the forest so far this year have been human caused. USDA Forest Service photo.

This week, a multi-agency national Fire Prevention and Education Team will visit dispersed camp sites, historic sites, campgrounds and other areas around the Mt. Hood National Forest to educate visitors about the restrictions and how they can protect lives and property from wildfire.

The team is comprised of professionals from the U.S. Forest Service and the Georgia Forestry Commission in partnership with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management and other federal, state and local agencies.

“Everybody needs to be aware of the dangers of wildfire, while still enjoying the many recreational benefits Mt. Hood National Forest provides,” Mark Wiles, the Prevention Education team leader, said. “Visitors can do just that during the ongoing focus on fire prevention. Our goal is to empower forest users with the knowledge that these restrictions are in place and there are consequences to ignoring them.”

For information about recreation and current fire restrictions on the Mt. Hood National Forest visit, or follow the forest on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Source information: Mt. Hood National Forest staff

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