Posted: Mon, October 8 2012 at 6:21 PM, Updated: Mon, October 8 2012 at 6:32 PM
With two fires starting just over the weekend, officials are keeping fire danger at extreme levels, so don't get complacent just yet. It might be Fall, but fire season is still in full swing. The weather behind a lot of the problem.
Extreme fire danger. "It will have been 80 days since we've had rain," says Mike Stavish who works for the National Weather Service. He tells us these past weeks are quickly becoming one of the longest stretches without precipitation on record in Medford.
"Right now it's the 14th longest stretch, if we make it to Saturday that will put us in the top ten," Stavish tells us.
That means fires continue to start easily. For instance, ash, burnt ground and scorched trees are the aftermath of this fire near Shady Cove which began Sunday and came dangerously close to a structure.
Crews are still mopping up the area, which burned 5 acres. It's one of two blazes started yesterday - the other near Stewart State Park, burning a quarter acre. "Just about everyday we're picking up fires. Invariably it's caused by people smoking in the woods, driving vehicles, hot vehicles," comments Brian Ballou of the Oregon Department Forest Service.
This summer 649 fires burned over 17 thousand acres just in Oregon. At this point the only large fire to remain on Northwest Coordination Center's map is at Pole Creek near Sisters.
"The area is very ripe for fire, should there be ignitions," says Stavish.
So if it's Fall, when will we start seeing some seasonable weather? For that we turned to NBC5's Meteorologist Jeff Heaton for the answer. "We definitely have a change in the weather as we head toward the weekend," Heaton says, " we have two systems coming in which will bring the chance for rain."
As for this Winter, Stavish says the dry conditions are an indicator of what may come. "The seasonable outlook as we head into Winter here, is increased chances for below average precipitation."
Still, it's too early to worry about water levels, but does mean, for now, fire remains a serious concern.
According to the Incident Information System there are still 14 fires considered active in the area, but all are 100 percent contained except for the Pole Creek Fire.