Fire Prevention

Causes ~ No Fireworks ~ Prevention Links

Whether accidental or intentional, people start wildfires every year in central Oregon. These wildfires cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to suppress and endanger lives and our natural resources.

Aerial view of a devastating wildfire

In 2008, humans ignited more than 170 wildfires on our local Forest Service and BLM lands – a third of the total wildfires for that year. Another 65 started on private lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

The Forest Service and BLM prevention specialists are members of the Central Oregon Fire Prevention Cooperative – a partnership group made up of members from wildland and structural fire departments in Central Oregon that focuses on educating our community members about steps they can take to prevent a fire before it starts.

House survived wildfire because of defensible space

The creation of a defensible space around your home is one way you can protect yourself and your house from wildfire. Learn more about Defensible Space.

Some of the leading causes of human-caused fires include:

Campfires: On federal lands, abandoned campfires are the number one source of human-caused wildfires. Most of these campfires stay small and are easy for firefighters to put out, but it only takes one to threaten lives, destroy property and change a beautiful area forever. Here are some simple steps to properly build and put out a campfire:


  • Make sure it’s legal to have a campfire!
  • Keep your fire small and manageable
  • Keep your fire contained inside a fire ring or clear an area and build your own ring
  • NEVER leave your campfire unattended – even if you’re just leaving for a few hours
  • Have a shovel and water available
  • Keep your firewood stored at least 10 feet away from your ring


  • Slowly add water to put out all flames
  • Stir, scrape and separate coals
  • Add water until the steaming stops
  • Feel for heat using the back of your hand over the coals.
  • Continue to add water and stir until no heat remains

Party Fires: building bonfires is a favorite pastime of teenagers and young adults and one that can quickly lead to problems. Unfortunately, the bigger the fire, the greater the chance that it will burn out of control and you can be held responsible for the cost of fire suppression. Make sure it’s legal to have a fire and keep it small!

Hunter Warming Fires: One of the most common causes of wildfires during hunting and mushroom season are small warming fires. Although the nights are cold, conditions are still dry and a hunt can be ruined by a wildfire. Make sure even these small fires are “dead out” before you head out to hunt or pick mushrooms.

Cigarette Fires: While conditions have to be just right, cigarettes can start wildfires. Make sure all burning materials are put out properly, and smoke in vehicles, in graveled areas or on a boat. Never discard your cigarette butts on the ground! If they’re cold – they’re litter; if they’re still burning, they can start a wildfire!

Fireworks and Public Lands Don’t Mix!

Help keep our wildlands safe and leave fireworks at home. Remember: possessing, discharging, or using any kind of firework or other pyrotechnic device on public lands is illegal at any time of the year.

Learn more about Fire Prevention