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Ashland fire danger level put at ‘Extreme,’ spark-emitting equipment use banned

The fire danger level in Ashland officially moved to extreme at 12:01 a.m. today, July 20, according to a press release issued by the Ashland Division of Forestry on Thursday afternoon.

Tightened restrictions prohibit:

The use of power-driven equipment such as power-saws, chainsaws and mowers;

The use of any spark-emitting equipment such as wood splitters and generators;

Cutting, grinding and welding of metal;

Mowing of dry or dead grass;

The operation of any spark-emitting internal combustion engine not specifically mentioned above;

Outdoor debris burning;

Use of the fire rings in Lithia Park and any privately operated raised outdoor wood-burning appliances; and

Smoking in areas of dry vegetation unless in designated locations, inside vehicles or boats on water.

Motor vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, may only be used on paved roads free of flammable vegetation except when used for the commercial culture harvesting and of agricultural crops.

Electric fences must be listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory or be certified by the Department of Consumer and Business Services and must be operated correctly.

If you drive anywhere except on the highway, county roads and driveways, it’s required to carry one shovel and one gallon of water or one 2.5 pound or larger fire extinguisher. All-terrain vehicles and motorcycles are required to be equipped with one 2.5 pound or larger fire extinguisher.

The use of fireworks and sky lanterns are prohibited year-round.

Ashland Fire and Rescue recommends all citizens be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice. This does not mean that Ashland is in immediate danger, it just means to be ready. Have a personal bag and supplies packed such as important documents, medications, water, first-aid, etc. ready to go just in case.

They also highly recommend having an evacuation plan. For more information, visit www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=13512.

Residents can also become Firewise by removing any dead or dying vegetation, or highly flammable materials from around your home and roof such as clearing pine needles from the gutters. For more information, visit www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=2825.

To sign up for direct alerts to your cell phone, email or landline, visit www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=17635.

For the most current updates on restrictions, visit www.ashland.or.us/fireseason or call Ashland Fire and Rescue at 541-482-2770.

The wildfire hotline provides information about fires burning in Ashland and surrounding areas and can be reached at 541-552-2490.

Another way to stay updated on emergencies affecting just the city of Ashland is by tuning into the emergency broadcast radio station at 1700 AM.

Air quality has significantly decreased due to smoke from surrounding wildfires. While it is in the unhealthy range, citizens should limit their exposure outside as much as possible and use a face mask when outdoors.

To check the air quality, visit oraqi.deq.state.or.us/home/map. For information explaining what this means, how to properly fit a face mask and how smoke affects health, visit www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=17502.

Photo by Pamela DeHartFriday morning's sunrise saw the sun peeping through a thick layer of smoke.