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C. Oregon, state officials warn of rising wildfire danger


With forecasters warning of an extended hot spell and the potential of dry thunderstorms, Central Oregon and state fire officials are girding for rising fire danger and pleading for the public to be very careful in the days leading up to the Fourth of July weekend.

“The combination of high temperatures and lightning increases the potential for natural wildfire ignitions and fire officials in Central Oregon are anticipating that firefighters will be very busy responding to lightning-caused fires,” according to a news release issued Wednesday afternoon by the Central Oregon Fire Management Service.

“With abundant dry fuels throughout much of Central Oregon, fire officials are asking the public to be proactive and take extra precaution when working and recreating throughout Central Oregon,” the statement continued.

“The potential for numerous wildfires with increased rates of spread from our predicted very high temperatures, and increased thunderstorm activity is imperative, they said.

For example, officials advised, “people who use or visit forest lands should smoke only in cleared areas or in vehicles and dispose of cigarette butts properly and also make sure all campfires are dead out.”

In addition, with the 4 th of July holiday nearing, fire officials want to remind the public that fireworks and exploding targets are always prohibited on Forest Service lands, and are prohibited on BLM lands this year from June 1 through October 15 due to the severity of fuel conditions.

If an individual is found responsible for starting a fire, whether it is accidental or intentional, they likely will be held responsible for all suppression costs for the fire.

“We hope everyone enjoys a safe and fun weekend and protects public lands for everyone’s future enjoyment,” the organization concluded.

Meanwhile, 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,” said 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- to 105-degree 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,” the ODF news release stated.

“While wildland fire agencies gear up for natural-caused wildfires, the last thing anyone wants is careless human-caused fires,” state officials said.

“The conditions are driving the story,” Fields said. “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,” he said. “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,” Fields added

So far this year, 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 for fire restrictions in your area or call your local Oregon Department of Forestry office or fire department.

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