Fire Alert

Oregon's wildfire season off to early start

Warmer days, drier conditions spark concern

SALEM, Ore. - It may be spring in Oregon, but with warmer, drier weather at hand, wildfires are starting to pop up like it's summer, Oregon Department of Forestry officials  warned Monday.

Last week ,as temperatures rose into the 70s and 80s, the Honeygrove Hobbit Fire on the West Oregon District burned 25 acres; a 10-acre fire burned in the woods west of Rogue River; a 6-acre fire burned in a forested area east of Prospect, and several other small fires broke out in both Jackson and Josephine counties.

No homes were threatened by the fires, but the blazes illustrated how easily wildfires are starting and spreading during this warm spell.

ODF meteorologist Jim Little says he is concerned about the heat and relative humidity this coming weekend.

"Eastern Oregon's relative humidity will be in the teens, and the 100-hour fuel moisture in single digits," he said, noting that 100-hour fuel represents the modeled moisture content of dead fuels in the 1- to 3-inch diameter class.

The amount of moisture in fuel is the major element that will determine how much of the available fuel will burn. According to how much moisture is in the fuel, all will burn, only part will burn or, if wet enough, none will burn.  

Oregonians are reminded that campfires must be drowned with water, stirred with a shovel, and drowned again, over and over, until the fire is dead out.  

Abandoned campfires became the No. 1 cause of wildfires in Oregon during the 2012 fire season.

Those who wish to burn debris are asked to call their local fire district to determine whether or not burning is allowed.  Fire officials urge residents to either chip their debris or haul it to a landfill.  Gas powered equipment should be used early in the morning before the sun dries the grass.

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