Outlook given for C. Oregon wildfire season

Experts talk about upcoming season

POSTED: 3:34 PM PDT June 28, 2012    UPDATED: 9:02 PM PDT June 28, 2012 
BEND, Ore. -

Wildfire season: It can start with a crackle, or a sudden gust of wind. Anyone could be responsible, a reckless smoker or even lightening from mother nature herself.

Officials from Central Oregon Fire Management Services said Thursday the only predictable aspect of fire season on the high desert is that we are bound to have one.

"There's always that potential there, on our landscape," said agency representative Mark Rapp. "I mean, the forests are flammable. It just depends on where we have an ignition and the timing of the year."

And weather patterns are the driving force behind whether a spark turns into a wildfire.

Although spring ended with cool, wet conditions, Rapp said the High Desert has already had fire activity.

"We had about five new fires over the weekend, but they were fairly small," he said.

All fires started the same way: lightning.

Sixty percent of wildfires here in Central Oregon start from above and the other 40 percent are human caused.

Rapp said some of the most popular recreation areas are also the most dangerous.

"When we get ignitions in there, that of course presents challenges for us, because those sometimes can be difficult to get to, and there's a lot of vegetation up there that is ready to burn," he said.

Rap added that he wouldn't dare try and guess how much damage will be done this fire season, unless you ask him in a few months.

"There's a lot of predictive services out there from the people who like to predict and model," he said. "And what I like to say is, 'Ask me in October how the fire season was.' Because that's really the tell-tale of how the fire season is going to go."