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Firefighters Stop Grass Fire at One Acre: Weed Abatement Was Critical To Safety

Firefighters from Ashland Fire & Rescue and the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) stopped a grass fire at just under one acre during the heat of the day on Monday. Crews responded to a 911 call at 4:23 p.m. with ODF arriving quickly from their guard station a few blocks away. Ashland Fire responded with two brush engines and two structural engines to protect an adjacent business and control the fire. ODF provided two engines and six firefighters and Ashland Police provided traffic control.
 
The fire started in a vacant lot that was mowed in accordance with Ashland’s Weed Abatement Ordinance. The difference between uncut grass up to three feet tall and grass cut to under four inches is significant for firefighters, allowing them to directly attack a fire safely with flames under two feet versus relying on helicopters and indirectly attacking a fire in uncut grass when flames can exceed eight feet. It was a fire in uncut grass outside the city limits that allowed the Oak Knoll Fire to spread rapidly and jump across Interstate 5, eventually burning 11 homes in 2010. There is no weed abatement regulation outside of Ashland’s boundaries.
 
“The story seldom gets told about fires like this that end up not making big news, but represent hard work and foresight on the behalf of past leaders who prioritized fire safety ordinances and funding our staff who enforce them,” said Chris Chambers, Wildfire Division Chief, whose division includes Weed Abatement, which is run by Sydney Jenkins, the department’s Fire & Life Safety Specialist.
 

The cause of the fire is unknown currently, though Ashland Police are still investigating.
 
 
Established in 1887, Ashland Fire & Rescue provides twenty-four-hour, all-hazards response to over 4,900 calls each year in an area over 600 square miles.

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