BEND, Ore. -

Every summer, wildfires scorch thousands of acres in Central Oregon.

This year, those flames could show up sooner.

"Unless we get a shift in the jet stream and all the things that the meteorologists talk about, then very soon we will be in our fire season," OSU professor of forestry Dr. John Bailey said. "California is already in their fire season this year which is unusually early."

A dry winter and a prediction of a dry spring could be the fuel.

It's the "week of fire" at COCC and forest scientists and fire managers are sharing their latest research on fire ecology and forest management at a conference in Bend.

They say although the dry weather could lengthen our wildfire season, it's not a predictor for how severe the season will be.

"Dry winters and dry springs lead to very long and dry fire seasons," Bailey said. "But even a wet spring just encourages a lot of vegetation growth, which ultimately will dry down and becomes fuel as well."

Severe or not, they say Central Oregonians need to prepare.

"Conducting defensible space or Fire Wise activities on your property or home help give you something that you can actually do, so that will reduce the risk that your home will be damaged in a future fire," said OSU research faculty member Christine Olsen.

It's a risk that could be very real, starting in just a few short weeks.

For information on how to protect your home or property you can visit: firewise.org