PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown held a press conference on the current wildfire situation in the state and the red flag warnings in place starting on Friday through Saturday for much of the region.
Gov. Brown was joined by individuals from the Office of the State Fire Marshal, the Oregon Department of Forestry, the Oregon Department of Emergency Management, Portland General Electric and PacifiCorp.
The press conference comes as power could be shut off to tens of thousands of customers across Oregon as red flag warnings have been issued for Friday through Saturday as a wind event hits the region, raising concerns it will worsen wildfire conditions throughout the state.
“The forecasted wind patterns, hot, dry weather and potential for lightning are making a challenging environment for increased fire danger in the coming days. There’s also the possibility of public safety power shutoffs to mitigate potential fire risk,” Brown said.
The governor noted that in the past two weeks, she has declared three fire conflagrations in addition to a statewide fire emergency as fires rage on.
“With seven active, large fires in Oregon right now, more than 168,000 acres are burning across our state,” Brown said.
The governor also highlighted the importance for all Oregonians to be prepared for fire season, explaining “being prepared is paramount. I encourage all Oregonians to make an emergency plan with your families today. Go to bed tonight with a plan in the event your family needs to evacuate or you wake up without power.”
She also noted that Oregonians can sign up for emergency alerts.
“As we look at the forecast and estimate what the conditions will be across the landscape, the combination of really dry winds, low relative humidity’s and an unstable atmosphere can lead to explosive fire growth,” said Chief Deputy Fire Marshal Travis Medema.
Medema added the state fire marshal’s office is “very concerned about the next 72 hours and what that means both in terms of new fires that start but also larger fires on the landscape.”
Officials explained that over 100 homes near the Double Creek and Sturgill fires are under some level of evacuations and that both fires are also under emergency conflagrations.
“This event also emphasizes the reoccurring need to build and sustain a culture of preparedness here in the state of Oregon,” said Andrew Phelps, the director of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.
Phelps highlighted the importance of being prepared for possible evacuations or power shutoffs by ensuring you have flashlights, batteries, extra medications and non-perishable food and water.
During the press conference, the CEO of Portland General Electric, Maria Pope, said it is likely they will initiate the Public Safety Power Shutoffs in their 10 high-risk fire zones — impacting approximately 30,000 customers.
Stay with KOIN 6 News as this story develops.