Bills aim to provide more firefighting flexibility
PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) — In the wake of a July fire that burned 80,000 acres of land in north-central Oregon, state Sen. Bill Hansell is introducing a package of bills that he thinks will improve firefighting efforts on farmland.
The East Oregonian reports that the four bills sponsored by the Republican are intended to provide flexibility in fighting wildfires in the area and move a previously unprotected land into the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s jurisdiction.
At its height last summer, the Substation Fire was the largest fire in the United States, burning thousands of acres of wheat in the process.
Hansell said farmers were worried about assuming liability for property damage or injuries while fighting fires, so he created Senate Bill 290, which grants civil immunity to people fighting fires in good faith. Another measure, SB 311, moves 400,000 acres of land in Sherman and Wasco counties into the state fire marshal’s jurisdiction.