Following light rainfall over the weekend, Jackson County's fire danger level has been reduced from "extreme" to "high" on the 1.8 million acres of lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Following light rainfall over the weekend, Jackson County's fire danger level has been reduced from "extreme" to "high" on the 1.8 million acres of lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

The reduced level means residents in rural areas now can use gas-powered and welding equipment until 1 p.m. The previous cutoff time was 10 a.m. In addition, campers in the wild and scenic section of Rogue River between Grave Creek and Marial can use charcoal fires in raised fire pans for cooking.

"Everything else remains in effect," said Brian Ballou, ODF fire prevention specialist.

Restrictions that are still in place include no debris burning, which includes piled refuse or anything burned in a barrel. Fireworks still are not allowed in ODF-protected forests or wildland areas, and campfires only are allowed at designated campgrounds. Electric fences must be certified by a nationally recognized testing organization.

In addition, motorized vehicles are allowed only on improved roads, and smoking cigarettes is restricted to inside enclosed vehicles. Finally, tracer ammunition and exploding targets cannot be used in wildland areas. Conventional ammunition still is allowed.

"The only real change is we lowered our restrictions on power equipment," Ballou said.

Fire season, which has been in effect since June 20, continues. Monday's rain, which began falling heavily in the afternoon, should help.

ODF officials said they are uncertain when the fire restrictions will end because of upcoming, inconsistent weather patterns. The National Weather Service reported moderate to heavy rain Monday with some gusty winds. Rain amounts were expected to total one-fifth to one-half inch, with larger amounts falling in the northern part of the county.

"This should be a pretty good soaker," said Brett Lutz, a weather service meteorologist and fire program manager. "This one does look a little more widespread."

After expected showers today, another dry stretch is predicted for Wednesday and Thursday, with temperatures in the high 70s on Thursday before cooling down over the weekend. Areas of fog are predicted for this morning and Wednesday morning.

Another storm front that was expected to bring more rain was forecast to hit the area Friday and remain through the weekend, according to the weather service.

"It's not a fixed point on the calendar," Ballou said of the end to fire season. "It's got to be the kind of thing where it doesn't turn right around again."

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at rpfeil@mailtribune.com.