Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Friday, May 27, 2016

Urban wildfires


Fire pits
House fires
BBQ related fires
Downed power lines
Kids playing with matches
Fireplace - chimney sparks
Electrical and chemical fires
Carelessness with matches, propane torches, etc.

About 20 years ago we were at a party on the 4th of July and came home to find blackened bushes and a partially burned pine tree in our front yard.  Illegal fireworks from our neighbor's backyard had landed in our yard, smoldered, and caught fire.  Fortunately, another neighbor saw the fire, grabbed a hose from our yard (thankfully we leave our hoses hooked up), and put out the fire.  We were lucky.  The neighborhood was lucky!

About the same time we were walking in Cook's Butte Park and smelled smoke.  Following my nose, we headed off the path into the brushy woods to find a camp fire ring and a pile of empty beer cans.  The party was over, but the fire was smoldering in the tree roots all around.  Lucky again that fire was spotted before real damage could occur.  There was no one else in the park that day.

Last year there was a two-alarm brush fire in Waluga Park that was thankfully contained with no damage to structures nearby.  It was a very dry summer.

The Lake Oswego Fire Department, with assistance from Clackamas County, assessed the danger of wildfires in Lake Oswego, and several neighborhoods stand out as high risk Wildland Urban Interface zones in our heavily wooded city.  There is no program to create defensible spaces around homes and structures, though the Springbrook Park HOA did undertake such a project on their own.  Indeed, property owners regularly complain about trees just inches from their homes that they would like to get rid of but are not technically hazard trees, and do not count as part of a "landscape plan," necessary for Type II tree removal permits.  Something needs to be done.

What is Lake Oswego's danger of wild fires?  
What can be done to help? 
(Hint: It has to do with our attitudes about preserving trees 
as exhibited by our tree code.)

Check out:
 Clackamas County Communities At Risk: Lake Oswego (detailed) and the Lake Oswego Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan (more general).

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