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Fire danger increases in county

As temperatures soar, the fire danger level has increased, bringing a string of additional restrictions to public and private forestland in Jackson and Josephine counties, The Oregon Department of Forestry reported.

Dry grass and weeds are igniting easily and burning more aggressively, and a hot week lies ahead, necessitating the increased restrictions on common fire-causing activities, fire prevention specialist Brian Ballou said in a news release announcing the upcoming change.

The high or yellow fire danger went into effect at 1 a.m. Tuesday on 1.8 million acres of state, private, county, city and Bureau of Land Management lands protected by ODF's southwest Oregon district. The Industrial Fire Precaution Level remains at level 1.

Temperatures are expected to climb in coming days, likely topping 100 degrees in Medford today, the National Weather Service forecast said.

Mowing dry grass, using a chain saw and other machinery-related activities such as cutting and grinding are curtailed from 1 to 8 p.m. under the new restrictions. Campfires are limited to designated campgrounds, and vehicles are allowed on improved roads only.

Smoking is allowed only in vehicles on improved roads or in boats or on gravel bars in the Wild and Scenic section of the Rogue River between Grave Creek and Marial.

All debris burning, including in burn barrels, is prohibited. Fireworks are banned in forests and on the Rogue River.

Chain saw users must have an ax, a shovel and a fire extinguisher at the job site, and a fire watch is required for one hour after the saw is shut down. All river travelers must have a shovel and a bucket that holds at least one gallon of water.

Complete information about fire season restrictions on ODF-protected lands is available online at www.swofire.oregon.gov and swofire.blogspot.com, and at ODF Southwest Oregon District unit offices in Medford and Grants Pass. Call the Medford office, 5286 Table Rock Road, at 664-3328.