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Overgrown weeds on a lot near Eagle Trace Road in Medford pose a fire hazard. (Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune)


Fire season means it's time to cut those weeds

If you’ve got knee-high weeds, get out the mower or be prepared for a fine.

With fire season starting June 1, Medford Fire-Rescue is now on the lookout for properties that have weeds taller than 10 inches, which is a violation of the city’s Municipal Code and subject to a fine of up to $250 a day.

The city has already sent out letters to owners of vacant properties of 1 acre or more to alert them that fire season rules are in effect.

Some lots in the city are already seeing weeds of 4 feet tall or more, but city officials always find worse problems heading toward July.

“Four feet is nothing,” said Trish Gish with Medford code enforcement. “We get some at roof lines sometimes.”

Volunteers comb the city to ensure large properties are properly maintained, while Medford officials typically respond to complaints from nearby residents on smaller properties.

In 2017, 474 cases were reported to the city’s code enforcement officers, with 467 in 2016, 408 in 2015 and 506 in 2014. The most complaints were filed in 2012 when the number hit 514.

Gish said the city seeks voluntary compliance from offenders. If a property has weeds higher than 10 inches, a letter is sent out giving the owner 15 days to take care of the problem.

Code enforcement has a number of properties that routinely generate weed complaints.

“We get the same weed cases every single year,” Gish said.

Tall weeds on an undeveloped lot helped fuel the Deer Ridge fire on the flanks of Roxy Ann in 2009, burning some 600 acres.

“If the weeds are 2 to 3 feet deep, a fire can spread pretty quick,” said Medford fire Marshal Greg Kleinberg.

He said he’s already spotted a lot on Eagle Trace Drive that has 4-foot-tall weeds.

“We really try to educate people before July 4 to get ahead of this,” he said.

As the season progresses, property owners have shorter and shorter windows to mow their weeds.

Kleinberg said owners typically want to cut their weeds in the early morning hours when humidity levels are higher.

Even if property owners live outside the area, they are still required to make sure their weeds are cut down, he said.

If your neighbor’s yard has high weeds, you can call code enforcement at 541-774-2016 or www.ci.medford.or.us/Contactus.asp.

For more information about the vegetation ordinance, go to: www.ci/medford.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=2037.

Medford Fire-Rescue will also provide more information about how to keep your property wildfire-resistant. Call 541-774-2300 or www.ci.medford.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=343.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.

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