Wildfire outlook in the Northwest: Peak fire season relatively calm so far, crews say

Author: Joe Raineri (KGW)

PORTLAND, Ore. — The start of wildfire season this year was expected to be at extreme levels, but so far, this summer has been very quiet. Average conditions for wildfire season are expected heading into September.

There are places that are going to be at a higher risk over the next several days, especially through the central and southern side of the state, where a drought is occurring.

Portland is currently in peak fire season, according to Jessica Prakke with the Oregon Department of Forestry. Typically peak season is in July and August but due to record spring rainfall this year the start was delayed.

“That rain we got back in June gave us time to really make sure all of our firefighters had the proper training it also gave us more time to hire and train staff,” said Prakke.

Along with more training this year, some state agencies also received better equipment that played a role, especially cameras.

“We have cameras set up along peaks throughout Oregon they are centered mostly throughout southeastern Oregon and central Oregon where we see more of the wildfires happening,” Prakke said.

Wildfire season can change in a blink of an eye, as seen in previous years.

Eric Wise a meteorologist with the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center said the threat of wildfires will be high over the coming days, as Portland sees another stretch with temperatures 90 degrees or warmer.

“They are projected to climb over the next few days before dropping back down to the average tendencies, but what we’re seeing moving forward are fairly average conditions,” said Wise.

While the threat of wildfires won’t be concerning on the west side of the state, the real concern is going to be in portions of Washington and Central Oregon.

Wildfire season doesn’t end until the end of next month and into early October when Portland will see fall storms bring in rain. Portland has not seen a measurable amount of rain since early July.

As of Monday, the Portland International Airport has gone 54 days in a row with no measurable amount of rainfall.

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