Slash burning is underway around Benton County. (Photo by GarysFRP/Getty Images via Canva)

Numerous slash pile burns related to logging operations have started to appear in the region, Philomath Fire & Rescue Deputy Fire Chief Rich Saalsaa reported.

“This is the time of year where local forestry growers can burn large piles of leftover branches and roots of tree harvesting operations,” Saalsaa said. “Burn season closes Dec. 15 so there are numerous burns taking place in the Benton County area.”

The Oregon Department of Forestry manages slash burning and is the agency responsible for permitting.

Backyard or open burning is a separate type of burn and is regulated by the Department of Environmental Quality, Saalsaa said. Permits for backyard/open burning are required in the Philomath, Blodgett and Kings Valley fire districts.

“The difference between slash burning and backyard burning is that backyard burning can only take place in the hours specified each day by the DEQ and slash burning will typically last days, as the piles are quite large,” Saalsaa said. “Slash burns also will show large flames that can be visible from major roadways, even into the night.”

Saalsaa said those fires are controlled by local operators under the guidance of ODF.

“They try to set the fires when the conditions are ideal for the smoke to go up rather than out — and they are not always successful,” Saalsaa said. “Smoke complaints can be directed to the DEQ as the fire departments do not regulate that aspect of the burns.”

Saalsaa reminds residents to only burn debris from clearing plants and trees and clean, untreated wood. Trash should never be burned.

For those with questions about burning, call Philomath Fire & Rescue between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays at 541-360-0030.

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