Sat. Jan 25th, 2020

Fire Investigation

Only you can help Oregon’s firefighters stop arson

The cause of every wildfire on Oregon Department of Forestry-protected land is investigated. During the 2018 fire season, Southwest District recorded 225 human-caused fires. Of these fires, 17 were arson – a 26 percent decrease from arson-caused fires in 2017.

An arsonist, if caught and convicted, can go to jail and be held responsible for all fire suppression costs. Information provided by someone who saw a person start the fire, or who knows the identity of the person who caused the fire, is vital if an arsonist is to be caught and convicted.

Fortunately, most human-caused wildfires are not caused by arson. However, many fires are caused by negligence. If a person is found to be willful, negligent or malicious in the cause of a wildfire, he or she can be issued a citation and be billed for the entire cost of fire suppression.

Fire prevention regulations typically put into place during fire season on ODF’s Southwest Oregon District include:

  • No debris burning
  • No burn barrel use
  • No campfires except in designated campgrounds
  • No fireworks in forests or other wildland areas
  • No smoking while traveling except in an enclosed vehicle
  • No shooting with tracer rounds
  • No use of exploding targets
  • No motorized vehicles allowed off improved roads

Also, equipment is regulated as to the time of day in which equipment may be used. Equipment includes chain saws, mowers, brush cutters and weed whackers powered by an internal combustion engine. It also applies to welding and the cutting and grinding of metal.

Electric fencer controllers are also regulated. Users of this equipment must follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and use, and the user must ensure the equipment is properly grounded at all times.

If you see someone starting a wildfire, call 9-1-1 — but we’d also like to hear from you. Call ODF’s Medford Unit at (541) 664-3328 or Grants Pass Unit at (541) 474-3152 and ask to speak with a fire investigator. Or call 1-800-452-7888 anytime day or night and leave a message. You can provide information anonymously, and all information you provide will remain confidential. Lastly, you can send information by e-mail to

Helpful information you can provide includes:

  • A physical description of the person who started the fire
  • A description of the vehicle and its license plate number
  • Time the fire was started
  • Location where the fire was started
  • Photos or videos you may have may be of great value to the investigation

Help stamp out arson in Oregon’s forests.

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