Warmer and drier conditions are expected through the end of this week and into Labor Day weekend for areas of Oregon west of the Cascades as wildfires continue to burn throughout the state.
According to the National Weather Service, the Willamette Valley should see temperatures in the mid-to-high 80s with haze hanging around the valley floor through Friday and clearing up into the weekend.
High temperatures in central Oregon will also reach the mid-to-high 80s with intermittent patches of haze through Saturday and clearing off Sunday.
Smoky conditions will persist in Medford and surrounding areas into the weekend, with daytime highs reaching the mid-90s through Labor Day. The NWS has issued an air quality advisory for Curry, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath and Lake counties until further notice.
As the state reaches the one-year mark since devastating fires ravaged communities in Jackson, Marion, Lincoln and Clackamas counties, crews continue to fight fires scattered across the Cascades.
Oregon Department of Forestry Fire Protection Chief Doug Grafe told OPB that continued drought and predicted warmer weather has state fire managers and firefighters pleading with the public to help prevent fires by keeping fires and sparks out of forests. He said colder weather in recent weeks does not mean its safe to act as if fall has already arrived.
“As the weather has cooled, we’re still seeing the long-term effects of drought,” Grafe said. “Fire danger remains high and you can help prevent the next big fire by checking and following the local fire regulations as you enjoy this long weekend.”
According to ODF’s report Thursday, the Devil’s Knob Complex 30 miles southeast of Roseburg in the Umpqua National Forest is currently the largest in the state at 38,387 acres and 28% containment. It consists of the 23,000-acre Smith Fire which continues to threaten structures to the east, as well as the 15,000-acre Big Hamlin Fire where mop-up operations are underway.
The Rough Patch Complex 26 miles southeast of Cottage Grove sits at 38,097 acres and is 19% contained. Spot fires were being lined and held Wednesday as helicopters were deployed and water drops to aid firefighters in constructing new lines.
The Jack Fire — part of the Rough Patch Complex — began July 5 and continues to be the longest-burning wildfire in the state. The 24,000-acre fire is approximately 36 miles east of Roseburg and is now at 55% containment. Fire crews continue to patrol and mop up areas to the west and north of the fire, with more crews working to burn out fuels along the southeast edge.
Crews working the Middle Fork Complex north of Oakridge are removing fuel inside the fire lines and mopping up areas burned earlier this week. The complex includes nearly 21,000 acres and is just 21% contained.
Fire behavior within the Bull Complex 12 miles northeast of Detroit has been moderate so far this week, but activity is expected to increase Thursday with warmer and drier conditions. The fire is currently only 4% contained and burning approximately 11,300 acres.
Crews on the Bull Complex are working to clear fuels within six miles of the fire line on the east and northeast flanks, and mop-up operations to the south. A level one evacuation notice, meaning local residents and visitors should be aware of wildfire danger, is in effect for the Breitenbush area and trails remain closed.
So far this year, Oregon has seen 1,661 fires burning across 653,000 acres.