Local | NW Stories

Wildfire Season Starts Early And With A Vengeance

Northwest News Network | July 21, 2014 4:26 p.m. | Updated: July 22, 2014 7:56 a.m.

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Fires have scorched thousands of acres of ranchland in southeast Oregon.

Fires have scorched thousands of acres of ranchland in southeast Oregon.

Brooke Nyman, Oregon Cattleman's Association

So far, more than 150 homes in Washington state have been destroyed in what veteran firefighters are calling the worst fire season in decades. 

In neighboring Oregon, firefighters are stretched thin by more than a dozen blazes burning at once.

Veteran firefighter Al Lawson came to a community meeting in central Washington to meet with residents displaced by the raging Carlton Complex Fire. It’s among the largest wildfires in the state’s recorded history.

“In my 30 years, I’ve never seen fire behavior like this,” he said. “Nothing to compare.”

Governor Jay Inslee toured the devastation over the weekend. He called it an unprecedented firestorm.

“Our state is stretched beyond imagination,” he said.

Inslee says the fact that it’s only mid-July is an ominous sign.

“Typically the fire season doesn’t really get going until August,” he said. “So we have at least two more months in the fire season and we have already burned twice as many acres as the average.”

Oregon has been spared the same level of devastation in terms of lost property. But the Oregon Department of Forestry says so far the sheer number of acres burned this summer is seven times more than a typical fire season.

On a more positive note, the agency’s Cynthia Orlando says cooler weather for the next few days could help slow things down.

“We’re getting a lit bit of a respite but you know, everybody’s on alert here,” Orlando said.

Temperatures are expected to soar back into the 90s by the end of the week.

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