Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fire Danger on the Rise

High Temperatures and the Threat of Lightning Forecasted

Fire managers throughout Oregon are feeling the heat. Continued hot, dry weather is plaguing the region that could lead to a significant fire from a single spark.

“I’m sure everyone is aware of the heat wave that is predicted over the next several days,” says Oregon Department of Forestry Fire Prevention Coordinator Tom Fields. “While we’re all looking for ways to stay cool, now is not the time to be careless with activities that could lead to a wildfire.”

Fire season is now in effect throughout Oregon and much of the state is experiencing fire danger conditions normally seen in late July and August. ODF Meteorologists are predicting record warm weather across Oregon later this week, with afternoon temperatures climbing into the 95-105 °F range by Friday and continuing through the weekend. In addition, southerly flow aloft will bring an increasing risk of dry thunderstorms, on both sides of the Cascades, beginning in southern Oregon on Friday and spreading north across the state this weekend. With forests already at mid-August dryness levels, the impending hot spell and dry lightning poses a significant fire weather threat. While wildland fire agencies gear up for natural-caused wildfires, the last thing anyone wants is careless human-caused fires.

“The conditions are driving the story. So far, we’re seeing above normal numbers of human-caused fires.” Fields says even activities not normally linked to fire starts are causing concern. “We have had three fires related to target shooting just in the last week. One of those fires burned 67 acres and cost over $80,000 to put out. These fires, and the fact that we have already had 80-plus human-caused fires above the average for this time of year is an indication that we need everyone to think twice before conducting any spark emitting activity.”

So far in 2015 the Oregon Department of Forestry has suppressed 301 fires in 2015, 227 of which were started by people. The two leading causes are debris burning and campfires. Many parts of the state have imposed public fire restrictions on outdoor debris burning, campfires, off road driving, fireworks, the use of tracer ammunition and exploding targets to name a few. Log on to www.oregon.gov/odf for fire restrictions in your area or call your local Oregon Department of Forestry office or fire department.