EUGENE, Ore. — Fire season is officially over, but the Oregon Department of Forestry says the threat for wildfires still exists.
This year fire season started much earlier than usual. And with a combination of lightning and human-caused fires, ODF and other fire fighting agencies had their hands full fighting a record acreage of fires.
This year’s fire season broke records, making its mark as the busiest fire season since 1951.
“We saw fire seasons in the past that haven’t been as bad as this obviously, and this season just because of the dry weather and the abundance of lightning that we’ve had, we haven’t had this much lightning in many years,” said Matt Mackey, Wildland Fire Supervisor.
Back in July, a major lightning storm hit Southern Oregon, sparking one of the largest fires in the state–The Douglas Complex.
“We had crews there since it started July 26 all the way up through end of September,” Mackey said.
Aside from lightning fires, human-caused fires contributed their fair share to the fires that cost $121 million to put out.
“A lot of abandoned campfires and debris burning that gets just from recklessness gets kind of, people just kind of forget about them and they happen, and then next thing they know the fire’s been taken off and it’s crossing a property line or anything like that,” Mackey said.
But even though all these fires are out and the risk of a new fire isn’t as high, there’s still some risk.
“Even though it’s cooling down right now, we’re still getting some dry weather. It’s getting a little bit warm in the afternoon, so just be diligent,” Mackey said.
So ODF is recommending to keep your eyes on backyard burns to stop them from getting out of control.
“Just keep an eye on it, keep water handy, keep a shovel handy, and just pay attention to those winds ’cause you can get those gusts that can carry embers or anything like that to grass or other vegetation nearby,” Mackey said.
ODF says another industry hit hard by the large wildfires this year was the timber industry, which it estimates lost $370 million worth of timber this year.