The state Department of Forestry has raised the fire danger level to high for all of rural Lane County, as well as southern Linn County and parts of northern Douglas County.

Recent heat and dry weather prompted the change, Department of Forestry spokesman Dave Kjosness said Friday.

"We are looking at some definite warm, dry weather persisting for at least the next 10 to 14 days," he said.

 

The high temperature in Eugene is forecast to reach 91 degrees on Saturday, 95 on Sunday and 90 on Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

Hot weather adds to the challenges of fighting fires, said Link Smith, Western Lane District forester for the Department of Forestry in Veneta.

"Fighting fires in extreme heat is especially taxing on those who are trained to protect our lands from fire," he said. "We are asking that the public remain mindful of this as they conduct activities during the coming days."

Firefighters already have responded to nearly 400 Oregon wildfires this year, according to the Department of Forestry.

The increased fire danger level brings more restrictions, Kjosness said. Under the restrictions, rural Lane County residents aren't allowed to run gas-powered yard equipment — such as chainsaws or lawnmowers — between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. There is an exception for mowing well-irrigated lawns, though. Also, campfires are allowed only in designated campgrounds with metal-ringed fire pits.

The Weather Service forecast calls for highs to be at or near 90 degrees much of next week. As long as the heat continues, so will the high fire danger level, Kjosness said.

"Unless we start getting some rain or it cools down quite a bit, we just stay at high for the majority of the summer," he said. "Hopefully we don’t go to extreme."

If the state raises the fire danger level to extreme — the highest level — for rural Lane County, the Department of Forestry would ban gas-powered yard equipment use at any time of day.

Follow Dylan Darling on Twitter @DylanJDarling. Email dylan.darling@registerguard.com.