Fire season not over yet in western Oregon

Despite cooler temperatures and wetter weather, officials say fire season will continue for a few more weeks.

Posted: Sep 6, 2019 6:27 PM
Updated: Sep 6, 2019 6:28 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- After Thursday’s thunderstorms that blew through western Oregon and started multiple lightning-caused wildfires, officials say this should be a reminder that fire season is not over.

The Douglas Fire Protective Association (DFPA) and the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) say collectively they responded to almost two dozen wildfires started by lightning strikes. Marcus Kauffman from ODF says they must respond to the same to every report, no matter the severity.

MORE: LIGHTNING STRIKES START AT LEAST 11 FIRES IN DOUGLAS COUNTY

"When we get calls of a report, we go and chase those smokes. We chased 15 different smokes and that resulted in ten actual fires here," Kauffman said.

Officials say just because summer is unofficially over, that doesn’t mean wildfire season is. The abnormally dry top soil mixed with a small drought can still fuel massive wildfires. ODF says fire season is over when a significant rainfall dampens the soil and foliage.

"We are in high fire danger here on the south Cascade district, and we don't base fire season on the calendar. We base it on the weather,” Kauffman said.

Lightning-caused wildfires are sporadic and can happen anywhere and anytime during thunderstorms, so resources can become thin. To help firefighters, Kyle Reed from DFPA says the public should not burn anything and report any signs of smoke.

“In the last hour or so we've had at least three calls for illegal burns. That takes resources away from these lightning-caused fires, trying to find those and take care of those," Reed said.

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