News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters on high alert over holiday weekend

It should be obvious to everyone that record heat and extremely dry conditions make for extreme fire danger in Sisters during the upcoming holiday weekend.

Local officials and citizens alike hope that no one is foolish enough to indulge in shooting off fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July.

“I would encourage people to go to the public displays if possible,” said Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire Chief Roger Johnson. “Pilot Butte (in Bend) is still on, and we’re hearing that’s going to be a spectacular show.”

Fireworks displays, in Redmond and Bend are scheduled to begin at dusk. The Redmond show will be at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds and requires a free fireworks parking permit if parking at the fairgrounds. Visit for more information.

The Bend show will take place at the top of Pilot Butte.

Fireworks are illegal anywhere in Sisters, in surrounding subdivisions, and on national forest lands.

“We’ll be sure to have deputies out patrolling and looking and educating — but also enforcing,” said City Manager Cory Misley.

While they don’t have an enforcement roll, firefighters will be out and about as well.

“We always patrol on the Fourth,” Johnson said.

The fire district will have “vehicles staffed and ready to respond” to any fire outbreak.

Fireworks are not the only concern. Campers and recreationists out in the forest must be extremely careful. People should be mindful of where they drive or park a vehicle in the forest, as a hot exhaust manifold can start a fire when conditions are this dry and hot. Open fires, including wood stoves and charcoal briquette fires, are prohibited in Deschutes National Forest except in certain designated campgrounds. Under current public use restrictions, smoking is prohibited in the forest, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.

Traveling off developed forest roads and trails also is not allowed, except for the purpose of going to and from a campsite located within 300 feet of the open, developed road.

Explosive targets like tannerite are always prohibited on Deschutes National Forest.

Violators who bring fireworks onto national forests and grasslands can be fined up to $5,000 and sentenced with up to six months in jail. Anyone who starts a wildfire can be held liable by the government for suppression costs, and may be subject to civil liability for private-property damage.

With record high temperatures, people are expected to flock to water. The Forest Service urges people to be attentive to safety on the water, too.

They report that up to 80 percent of drowning victims didn’t use a life preserver; many of those deaths could have been prevented by wearing a life jacket. In Washington and Oregon, state law requires life jackets aboard most boats and personal watercraft, including paddleboards and kayaks — especially for children. Life jackets are available in styles to suit any water-based activity.

Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved, and check to make sure it fits securely and is rated to support the weight of the person who will wear it.

Hikers should be wary of thefts from vehicles parked at trailheads and campsites. Leave valuables at home if you don’t need them; keep critical items on your person. If you must leave an expensive item unattended, lock it in your trunk before you arrive to avoid being observed.


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