PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As crews make advancements toward containing wildfires across Oregon, fire officials are warning that there are still slow-burning hazards to be cautious of, such as smoldering tree stumps.
Al Nash, the public information officer for the Beachie Creek Fire in Marion County, said areas where the fire swept through that now appear to be burned over and safe to walk through can be deceiving.
“I think there’s a perception that a wildland fire is like building a campfire—it burns brightly for a while and then it burns completely out,” explained Nash. “It’s going to be hot for a long time and then the residual effects are going to be there honestly for months and years.”
“You might just see a mosaic of a burn, areas that are burned, areas that may not have burned, you may see some ash, but you may not know about those hidden hazards underneath,” said Nash.
Hidden, smoldering pockets could still put a home at risk of burning. This is one reason that some places in Clackamas and Marion Counties are still under a Level 3 evacuation notice. Emergency management officials also say charred trees are at risk of toppling.
“Probably the greater risk, really, is for those who like to go out and play in this area. They really need to understand that these are hazards that are going to be there for some period of time,” said Nash.
Further into the future, experts say the damage to root systems from wildfires can create a recipe for landslides.