Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wildfire Danger on the Rise in Oregon

For wildfire managers, the current forecast of dry easterly winds and rising temperatures means just one thing: elevated fire behavior. East winds, common in late summer and early fall, can turn a smoldering campfire or an errant spark from a vehicle into a raging blaze in minutes. And the winds coming later this week are predicted to be especially strong – 15 to 20 mph. The low humidity, coupled with wind and high temperatures, can turbocharge even the smallest fire start.

Whether this weather event spawns new wildfires depends almost entirely on how Oregonians behave in the forest. This time of year, human activity is the chief cause of fires, not lightning. We can prevent wildfires by taking extra precautions as we work and recreate in the forest. You can make the difference by following a few simple tips:
  • Operate ATVs and other motorized vehicles only on established roads.
  • Check your vehicle for dragging tow chains that can send sparks into roadside vegetation.
  • Don’t park on dry grass – the hot exhaust system can set it smoldering in seconds.
  • Check current fire restrictions for the area before building a campfire. Open fires may be prohibited. But if allowed, tend the fire constantly and extinguish it thoroughly before leaving the area.
  • Smoke only in an enclosed vehicle. Properly dispose of cigarette butts.
The Keep Oregon Green Association offers additional tips on preventing wildfires