With the hot, dry weather expected to continue through the rest of this week, local Oregon Department of Forestry officials increased the fire danger level and are restricting certain activities on state forest lands in Clatsop County.

Astoria-based Protection Unit Forester Neal Bond said relative humidity and fuel moisture are at worrisome levels and fire danger, especially during the drier, hotter afternoon hours, is high. With the bow-hunting season now open for elk and deer, more people will likely be camping on state forest land, too, he said, adding that many fires in the county are caused by people.

“Basically we’re trying to stay as fire safe as we can,” Bond said. “We’ve had a long summer with not very much rain. … People should know that not only can a fire start easily, it can spread quickly.”

Beginning today, anyone driving on forest roads must carry a shovel and either a 2.5 pound fire extinguisher or 1 gallon of water.

Burn barrels and residential campfires will be allowed with a department-issued burn permit in the western half of Clatsop County. People can use chainsaws on personal property until 1 p.m.

In the eastern half of the county, campfires are only allowed in designated metal fire pits at Henry Rierson Spruce Run Campground, Gnat Creek Campground, Northrup Creek Horse Camp and Beaver Eddy dispersed sites in Clatsop County. No burn barrels and residential campfires are allowed.

Also, all off-road vehicle trails in the Nicolai Mountain OHV Riding area are closed. Travel in Nicolai Mountain is limited to maintained gravel roads only and all campfires and bonfires are prohibited in the dispersed campsites in the Nicolai OHV area, which includes Shingle Mill, Viewpoint, Kerry, Plympton and Lost Lake.

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