The Union County Fire Defense Board wants to be safe rather than sorry and will implement a burn ban before a fire incident erupts.

The Union County Commissioners held an emergency meeting Wednesday to implement the county-wide burn ban, which took effect Friday morning at 12:01 a.m.

The defense board includes the chiefs from every fire department in the county.

The City of La Grande enacted a burn ban at the same time as the county.

The burn ban restricts all fires, except for regulated field burning and the use of propane barbecues.

“We haven’t had a wetting rain for a significant portion of time,” said Union County Emergency Services Manager JB Brock. “We have four active fires in the region and conditions (in the county) are conducive to fire. The
resources are being stretched.”

Fire Defense Board Chief Larry Wooldridge said the Oregon Department of Forestry is hiring local volunteer firefighters to help on the active fires in the region. It means the resources are being strained that much more.

Brock also added the three fires in the region — Bear Butte, Clarks Creek and Indian Lake — were human caused.

In a letter submitted to the commissioners, Wooldridge said the hot and dry conditions have brought burning conditions to “an extreme level.”

“We have the possibility of thunderstorms and lightning in the immediate forecast, further increasing probability of potential large fires in our area,” the letter stated.

Also, with the influx of people coming to the area for the total eclipse, there is an increase of fire potential.

Commissioners Donna Beverage and Steve McClure agreed with the sentiment of being proactive in setting the burn ban into effect before there’s another fire.