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Wildfire season across the state remains in effect despite the weather transition to fall.

Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) officials warn that severe drought remains in most of the state, along with dry fuels, temperature increases, and low humidity.

“East wind events like the one we experienced Sept. 9 and 10 are very common around this time of year,” ODF Fire Protection Chief Mike Shaw said. “There is still potential for more fire starts, and the season isn’t over yet. We are prepared for new fire starts; however, the less human-caused fires we have, the less strained our resources will be.”

Federal emergency declaration

On Sept. 14, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown asked President Biden to approve a federal emergency declaration for the State of Oregon due to extreme risk of significant wildfires.

"We still have several weeks of peak fire season ahead of us," Brown said in announcing the federal emergency declaration. "If granted, Oregon would be the first state ever to receive such a declaration for wildfire response."

Brown said the federal disaster declaration is critical to helping bolster the state’s wildfire response.

"It presents an opportunity for Oregon to partner with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to bridge the gaps we know exist as we work hard to protect our communities," Brown said.

In a wildfire update published in The Chronicle Sept. 14, Columbia River Fire & Recuse (CRFR) Public Information Representative Jennifer Motherway recommended that the people pay attention to local fire district and fire department websites and social media pages to follow potential weather and hazardous threats.

“We aren’t in the clear yet from the fire danger and our agencies are generally really great at getting any communications about hazards posted via social media to our communities, she said.”

Motherway encourages residents to sign up for the CAN system, an electronic notification system.

“That is the best advice we can provide the community,” she said. “The more people sign up the better chance we have at getting a larger communication out to our community.”

In that Sept. 14 Chronicle report, Scappoose Rural Fire Protection District Chief Jeff Pricher urges local community members to be aware of the Ready (Level 1 evacuation), Set (Level 2 evacuation) and Go (Level 3 evacuation) in the event the area experiences a rapidly growing emerging wildfire incident.

He urges property owners to make sure they have defensible space in place to best protect their homes and businesses.

“Community members should check with their local fire agencies for more information and in some cases, we will come out and survey their property on how to harden a home in the urban interface area,” Pricher said.

Human element

So far this season, Shaw said Oregonians have kept human-caused fires below the national average. ODF encourages people to stay careful until the official end of fire season.

“With the temperature changes,” ODF Wildfire Prevention and Policy Manager Levi Hopkins said, “it’s easy to think that fires are lessening. However, we are still seeing new fire starts daily throughout the state of Oregon. “

With its advisory, ODF has issued the following precautions:

  • Debris burning is prohibited during fire season without a permit. Cover your pile and wait until fire season is over. A dry, covered pile is safer to burn in late fall or winter.
  • Do not park a car over dried grass, and make sure the vehicle or ATV is regularly serviced.
  • Dispose of a cigarette using a designated receptacle, and never discard a butt on the ground or in vegetation outdoors.
  • Check local restrictions before lighting a campfire.
  • Several ODF districts have updated their fire danger levels recently. However, most of the state remains in moderate or extreme fire danger.

For more fire safety information, check with your local fire district or fire department or check the ODF website.


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