Fire officials discussed Oregon’s ongoing wildfire season, fire prevention and preparedness in a briefing Thursday. Leaders expressed concern of fire danger in relation to the high temperatures and drought conditions throughout the state.
Nancy Hirsch, state forester for ODF, said fire conditions continue to worsen from drought and high temperatures. Five major complexes resulted in last week’s lightning, with a total of 100 fires. One single spark can start a fire that can spread quickly. Firefighters are challenged to continue with the pace of this fire season.
“We can’t control the weather or fire starts from lightning,” Hirsch said, “We can and we must prevent how many human-caused fires we add to the landscape.”
ODF’s Chief of Fire Protection Doug Grafe said this is a difficult fire season with a tough forecast of triple digit temperatures across much of the state this week.
“We have, along with the challenging temperatures, likelihood of lightning,” Grafe said. “That’s a difficult forecast for us with lower humidity on top of the ongoing drought.”
Lightning has contributed to many fire starts, including the Skyline Ridge Complex near Canyonville and the Middle Fork Complex near Oakridge.
Oregon Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple said there is a large amount of fire across all lands.
“We as the general public are probably the number one helper in this,” Ruiz-Temple said. “We have a role.”
Andrew Phelps, director of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, said every Oregonian was in some way impacted by last year’s fire season, whether they were evacuated or experienced poor air quality from smoke.
“We need to use these experiences of our past emergencies and disasters to inform and strengthen our statewide preparedness,” Phelps said. “Too many of us in Oregon are underprepared. We need to work together to change that.”
People must do their part to limit the risk of hazards. People should have copies of critical documents and sign up for emergency alerts in the county at oralert.gov
For evacuation levels, level one means get ready, level two is get set, and level three is go, Phelps added. People might get a knock on the door from the fire department, receive a message or may receive no notification at all. People should take time to prepare now.