VALE — As Oregon reopens and the Memorial Day holiday weekend approaches, Vale District Bureau of Land Management would like to remind the public to exercise caution with fire, heat sources and anything that can produce a spark.

May is Wildfire Awareness Month and Vale District wildland fire personnel have already responded to four human-caused wildfires this year. The North Alkali Creek fire was caused by an exploding target and the Jonesboro Fire was caused by a car fire. The causes of the 67-acre Agate Field Fire near Succor Creek Road and the Basque Fire off Hwy. 95 are still being investigated.

"Recent rainy weather has helped lessen fire danger,” said Al Crouch, fire mitigation and education specialist for Vale BLM. “However, light fuels like grasses and brush can dry quickly with a little sunshine and wind, becoming capable of catching fire. Please exercise caution, especially in the lower elevations where fuels conditions are drier overall."

Although the weather outlook for the Memorial Day weekend shows average temperatures, fire conditions this summer are predicted to be hotter and drier than normal. Higher-than-usual large fire risk is anticipated in sections of Oregon and eastern Washington as summer progresses.

"Equipment is the leading human cause of wildfires on the Vale District, either through mechanical failure or operator error,” Crouch said. “As you begin the outdoor season, check your vehicles, generators, and other equipment used for camping to ensure it is functioning properly before visiting public lands. Also, when using trailers, ensure safety chains and other equipment will not drag on the road, and tires are properly inflated. Keep motorized equipment, vehicles and other off-road machines off dry grass."

The public plays a valuable role in preventing wildfires. The national average of human-caused wildfires compromises 87 percent of all wildfire occurrences each year. Most of these fires can be prevented. The Vale District Bureau of Land Management reminds the public to help keep firefighters, communities, and natural resources safe.

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