The risk of wildfires in Oregon has dramatically increased over the short and long term, and it will get worse throughout the Fourth of July and the rest of the summer.
The Willamette Valley has been under a red flag warning through Wednesday due to excessive temperatures, strong winds, low relative humidity, and uncertain weather. Fireworks might start new, quickly spreading fires, according to officials.
The National Weather Service in Portland stated that the conditions “may be favorable for the rapid spread of new or existing fires.” Extreme fire behavior is possible.
As a result of the 533-acre Tunnel 5 Fire, which has destroyed at least 10 homes and forced evacuations on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, and the 40-acre Moon Mountain Fire, which has forced evacuation alerts in Eugene and a high degree of fire danger has already been reached over the entire Northwest.
Red Flag Warnings are in place for much of western Oregon through Wednesday evening. Please be mindful of these conditions and do what you can to avoid sparking a fire.
— Oregon State Fire Marshal (@OSFM) July 4, 2023
Fire authorities warned Oregonians to use pyrotechnics carefully and emphasized that they are forbidden in federal and state forests.
It’s doubtful that the significant fire risk will decrease very soon.
Most of the state will see “above normal” fire danger in August, along with all of northwest Oregon and much of Central Oregon.
The improvements come after a state-wide late spring and early summer that was incredibly hot and dry, with long-term projections calling for more of the same for the remainder of the summer and into October.
The extra rainwater has swiftly dried up despite a snowy winter and some indications of a modest start to fire season.
At least in the western portion of the state, campfires are still permitted in many leisure areas, but restrictions on flames will probably soon be put in place.
Fire authorities are urging Oregonians to use fireworks responsibly for the time being.
“We want the general public to be extra prepared when visiting the forest and be mindful of the drier weather conditions,” said Eric Miller, acting fire staff officer for the Northwest Oregon Interagency Fire Management Organization. “We value the community’s support in assisting us in preventing human-caused fire starts.”