Oregon officials say this year they’re so far reining in wildfires much quicker than previous years

By Brian Bull (KLCC)
Aug. 16, 2022 5:53 p.m.
ODF crews work on a blaze outside Sweet Home, Oregon.

ODF crews work on a blaze outside Sweet Home, Oregon.

Oregon Department of Forestry

As of Monday, crews with the Oregon Department of Forestry have suppressed 418 fires, burning a total of 582 acres in ODF districts. This contrasts with a 10-year average at this point in the fire season of 590 fires and over 56,000 acres scorched.

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Levi Hopkins, ODF’s Wildfire Prevention and Policy Manager, largely credits Senate Bill 762, which spent $220 million to improve wildfire response across Oregon.

Those improvements included “increasing and expanding our smoke detection camera system,” Hopkins said. “And then working really close with all of our other partners in welfare suppression, making sure everyone can have access to the cameras that they need and that we can strategically put them throughout the state.”

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The ODF also says 27 specialized aircraft around Oregon have helped keep fires small and few.

Meanwhile, there’s still a risk of new fires as storm activity returns to the region this week.

An aircraft drops retardant on a fire in ODF's Southwest Oregon District in 2020.

An aircraft drops retardant on a fire in ODF's Southwest Oregon District in 2020.

Oregon Department of Forestry

Hopkins is the Wildfire Prevention and Policy Manager for the Oregon Department of Forestry. He says lightning strikes can cause fires that could grow and expand, so no one can put their guard down yet.

“We’re still actively fighting fires, we’re still actively trying to prevent fires, you see smoke definitely report it. Call 911, make sure people know that it’s there and aware,” said Hopkins.

“We’ve pre-positioned engines and firefighters throughout this state as these storms come in, so we will add that extra capacity in those areas that have that more potential for lightning.”

Storms are expected through the Cascades on Wednesday and Thursday. While moisture is expected, some areas are still dry from recurring drought conditions.

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