JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. — With wildfire season less than a month away, fire agencies said they’re getting better predictions of what this summer will look like.
The National Interagency Fire Center is predicting a heavy wildfire season for areas along the West Coast this summer. According to the report released Wednesday, August marks the beginning of the peak of fire season in the West.
Last year, 2,000 fires burned nearly 900,000 acres across Oregon. Local fire agencies and meteorologists said they are already gearing up for this summer.
“August will be a challenging month for firefighters everywhere and it really comes down to the weather,” Melissa Cano, Emergency Management Coordinator with Medford Fire-Rescue said.
Last year, a majority of wildfires were here in southern Oregon. Many of them sparked during a lightning storm on July 15th.
“It caused over 100 fire starts within just one week’s span,” Cano said. “It comes down to how the weather is treating us and that’s the one thing we can’t prevent and it’s pretty tricky.”
The National Weather Service said this year’s wet weather the past few months have been beneficial in getting the region out of drought and having more snowpack.
“Our water situation is much better than where we were so there is more moisture in the vegetation right now then there was this time last year,” Brett Lutz, a meteorologist with National Weather Service said.
However, as vegetation dries, it will elevate the potential for fire. Agencies are encouraging people to take steps now to protect homes this summer.
“Doing any mitigation now is great,” Cano said. “Make sure you’re taking care of your homes, checking for leaf clutter, anything like that that can just make your home more defensible is a good step one.”