Multiple fire agencies, forest service hold conference to address public about fire concerns

MEDFORD, Ore. — Multiple agencies from across the Rogue Valley held a press conference this morning to address their concerns about this year’s fire season.

8 different agencies from fire departments to the U.S. Forest Service want to stress the importance of the historically dry conditions our area is in. They want the public to prevent any fires, since they say, most fires this year have been human-caused.

“Be mindful of the fire prevention regulations,” said Tyler McCarty with the Oregon Dept. of Forestry Southwest Dist.

“Harden your property, prepare your residence,” said Fire Chief for Fire Dist. 3, Mike Hussey.

“Help us, help you,” said Applegate Valley Fire Chief, Mike McLaughlin.

It’s a plea from fire officials across the region, in what could be one of the hottest and driest years on record.

“Don’t be fooled by the amount of rain we received and we might get from thunderstorms today, we’re in a drought situation,” said Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest’s Dan Quinones.

Quinones says his agency has the same number of firefighters. They cover 1.8 million acres of federal forest.

“So if we have a large lightning event like we did in 2018, we know that’s not enough.”

The agency can’t stop lightning, it can only mitigate the fires the lightning strikes cause, but Quinones says the Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest has already had 10 fires this year that were human-caused.

“Human starts seem to be our bread and butter right now, so we’re actively patrolling,” he said.

That matches what many agencies in the state find in an average year and they’re hoping people are extra careful with conditions so ripe to burn.

“The big picture is simple, we’re working together. We have to, we don’t have enough resources from any agency to be successful on our own,” Quinones said.

Firefighters say you should keep up with conditions and fire emergencies through social media and broadcast news.

“Follow social media posts, follow the news, all information that’s going around within your area is going to be broadcasted one way or another with all these entities here,” said Illinois Valley Fire Chief, John Holmes.

The ultimate goal, they say, is to keep everyone safe.

With the 4th of July coming up, fire officials also recommend people visit firework shows instead of purchasing and using their own.

If you do set off fireworks, they ask you to soak them immediately afterward.

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