Water | Local

Wildfires In Northwest Burn Record Number Of Acres In 2012

EarthFix | Oct. 8, 2012 2:50 p.m. | Portland

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The Forest Service and BLM say 2012 has been the worst fire season in the last 100 years.  

Pole Creek fire from a helicopter (Tom Lunde)

Pole Creek fire from a helicopter (Tom Lunde)

Oregon and Washington have reported fewer fires than average, but a record number of acres burned. 

Low winter snowpack in southeast Oregon created the conditions for a massive range fire in July.

Then, thousands of lightning strikes in August and September ignited wildfires across the region.

And a summer dry spell that still hasn’t ended also fueled the flames, says Terry Marcha, a meteorologist with the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.

“I think the most important thing is whether or not we get that periodic, maybe every two weeks, a little bit of rain, because that keeps a lid on things,” Marcha said. “This year we went through the entire season, not any rain at all.”  

The interagency wildfire team says so far it has spent about a quarter of a billion dollars fighting fires in the Northwest this year.

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