Summer is ending, but fire season in So. Oregon is far from over

MEDFORD, Ore. —It’s the end of summer, but fire season is far from over. Though fall begins Wednesday, we still have some time left this fire season. But how much time, it’s hard to say. It depends on the forecast and conditions.

While summer is officially coming to an end, fire season is still in full swing.

Our morning meteorologist Bobby Johnston says despite the rain this past weekend, temperatures in the Rogue Valley are heating back up again.

“The first day of fall we cool down, but then we are back into these 80’s and 90’s until we’re getting into the end of the week, still some hot temperatures, still some dry conditions,” says Johnston.

This fire season saw historic drought conditions and dry fuels across the state, keeping firefighters busy the last several months. Natalie Weber with the Oregon Department of Forestry-Southwest District, says it started seeing consistent fires from the first week of March on.

“This year we had everything stacked against us, we were in a severe drought for a lot of our protections area, and we started seeing warm weather conditions that supported fire growth very early in the spring,” said Weber.

Despite these factors, ODF says its largest fire between Jackson and Josephine counties so far was 60 acres. Pinpointing the last day of fire season isn’t easy to predict. Weber says a lot of factors go into declaring it over.

“A lot of that has to do with the weather. We really look for those more fall-like systems when we see consistent rain in the forecast when temperatures are consistently cooler, we don’t have the east winds we typically get in the fall,” said Weber.

ODF shared with us the years when fire season has ended each year since 2014, in Jackson and Josephine counties.

  • 2014: Oct. 15th
  • 2015: Oct. 28th
  • 2016: Oct. 13th
  • 2017: Oct. 20th
  • 2018: Oct. 29th
  • 2019: Oct. 1st
  • 2020: Nov. 6th

“We’re on the downward slope and you can really see that in the fire behavior we’re seeing,” said Weber.

On the East side of the cascades, firefighters continue to battle the Cougar Peak Fire and the Bear Flat Fire. Jennifer Case with the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Klamath Lake District, says it’s going to take a lot more moisture to declare the end of fire season.

“It doesn’t look like there is an end in sight for the next ten days and this month, and maybe even into next month,” said Case.

NBC5 News Reporter Jenna King is a Burbank native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at the U of O, she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through interning with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors, or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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