Oregon-Washington 2021 fire season: Dry, in drought

Wildfires

72% of Oregon and 87% of Washington are in a severe drought

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The 2021 fire season outlook calls for dry conditions throughout both Oregon and Washington, particularly right now in southwest Washington. Wild land officials said Oregon is also abnormally dry.

At this time, 80% of Oregon and 46% of Washington are in a severe drought. That means minor actions and accidents can spark wildfires.

“Right now on average about 87% of wildfires in the United States are human-caused, which means that almost 80% of the fires that we’re seeing each year are preventable,” said Morgan Rubanow with the Bureau of Land Management Oregon/Washington.

Bureau of Land Management – Oregon/Washington wildfires
Keep Oregon Green
How to Prevent Wildfires
Oregon Recreation Closures Map

For the rest of the fire season through September, Rubanow said fire danger needs to be top of mind. The most common activities that start wildfires in the Pacific Northwest are:

  • Debris burning
  • Lawn mowing/equipment use
  • Campfires
  • Fireworks
  • Cigarette butts
  • Cars pulling over on dry grass
  • Trailer chains dragging and sparking
  • Target practice

Oregon’s Recreation Site Status Map

Before this fire season the Bureau of Land Management and other forest management partners have been working to remove debris and they conducted prescribed burns to help reduce the risks. But now it’s up to us to do our part, to be responsible outdoors and avoid accidentally starting a wildfire.

Kristin Babbs, the president of Keep Oregon Green, said we all need to be on our best behavior this year.

“What I like to say is that if you can predict the outcome of your actions, if you can visualize a fire starting as a result of any given common everyday activity that you’re doing, whether it’s mowing your lawn, the whirling metal blade that can strike a rock and start a fire — if you can visualize those things happening in a bad outcome, it probably might happen, especially in the conditions that we’re facing,” Babbs said. “So it’s best to just wait, postpone any risky outdoor activity that could possibly ignite a wildfire and just wait for the right conditions.”

She said no one wants their common everyday activity making front-page news. So it’s crucial that while traveling this summer you’re aware of burn bans and fire warnings wherever you’re headed.

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