Fire departments' response is more urgent during fire season

I live in Sams Valley, and when I have debris to burn, I always check to see whether it is a "burn day." On almost every not-approved burn day, I look out my front door and count the smoke trails rising from debris (not agricultural) burns. I recently went to look at a couple of these locations and found that the biggest burn was less than a mile from the fire station on Tresham Lane. I called Fire District 3 and was told to call 911. Seriously? Does the fire district ever look into these illegal burns?

— Sharon N., Sams Valley

Sharon, come fire season, when all burns are bad burns, Jackson County Fire District No. 3 will appreciate your vigilance.

If you're worried that there is an escaped burn or that someone's property is being damaged by an unwanted fire, call 911, and Fire District 3 will respond with lights, sirens and all, said John Patterson, District 3 fire marshal. However, to report debris burns on nonauthorized burn days, call the Jackson County Environmental Public Health Department at 541-774-8207.

"Outside of fire season, we don't deal with the burn piles unless someone is burning illegal items such as tires or carpet, but when it is fire season, we take it very seriously, no burning at all," Patterson said.

"We could chase smoke all day long, but then the emergency medical calls wouldn't be responded to as quickly because we'd be off-site."

Sharon, when you call to report an illegal debris burn, you'll be asked to provide the time and date of the fire and the address. The county will mail a letter to the residents with information about when and what they can burn, said Chad Petersen, county environmental health program manager.

Also, keep in mind that many agricultural burns are exempt from the rules, as are burns supervised by the Department of Forestry and the Department of Fish and Wildlife that happen outside the air-quality management area.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

Share This Story