Friday, June 7, 2013

Outlook: Hot and Dry

After a week of hot weather in southwest Oregon, it's easy to believe the long-range wildfire forecast that says the 2013 fire season will be one for the record books. A thin snowpack in the Cascade Range and the Siskiyou Mtns coupled with a drier than normal spring has left vegetation in Jackson and Josephine counties ready to burn.

And it's not going to get better anytime soon.

Higher than normal temperatures and lower-than-normal precipitation is expected throughout summer, according to the National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook published on June 1 by the National Interagency Fire Center. "Above normal significant wildand fire potential" is expected in Oregon and Northern California from July through September.

All signs point toward this being a summer to be very careful when using fire or spark-creating equipment outdoors.

Fire Stats: May was a Busy Month for Firefighters

Firefighters on ODF's Southwest Oregon District responded to 70 wildfires in May, more than three times the 10-year average. The springtime outbreak of wildfire burned 190 acres, a whopping five times higher than the 1--year average.

 
No. of fires 2013
Acres  burned 2013
No. of fires
10-yr avg
Acres burned
10-yr-avg
Medford Unit
32
25
12
21
Grants Pass Unit
38
165
8
19
SWO District
70
190
20
40

A significant cause of May's fires was lightning. Twenty-four fires were caused by thunderstorms May 5-6, but burned only 15 acres. People have caused the greatest number of fires and the biggest fires so far in 2013, the largest being the 115-acre vehicle-caused Beacon Hill Fire which broke out  Friday, May 31. Escaped debris burning fires this spring accounted for 25 wildfires that burned a total of 25 acres.

Since fire season began June 3, the number of debris burning-caused fires has plummeted.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Beacon Hill Fire in Final Stages

Firefighters working on the 115-acre Beacon Hill Fire east of Grants Pass report good progress was made Saturday on strengthening firelines and mopping up hot spots. Today, a county Community Justice crew and a handful of engines continue the laborious chore of extinguishing isolated hot spots.

Residents will see occasional puffs of smoke rise from the burned area today, and fire vehicle traffic will continue in the Jones Creek Rd. and Beacon Dr. areas.

Remember: Fire season in southwest Oregon starts tomorrow, which means open burning season will end. Fire season typically lasts until mid-October.