Wildfires have consumed more than a half-million acres in Oregon so far this year. That number includes blazes on both public and privately-owned land. According to the Oregon Department of Forestry, roughly 528,000 acres have burned so far, with more than a dozen uncontained wildfires still active in Oregon.
Ron Graham is the Deputy Chief of the Fire Protection Division of the Oregon Department of Forestry. He says that number will likely grow, because it could be several more weeks until wildfires subside in a meaningful way.
“Overall, these fires now will be on the landscape until there are season-ending events for us,” he said. “Typically that means when we start to see normal rainfall return into the picture and snow in the high country.”
Scattered showers and thunderstorms are in the forecast this week in parts of Oregon, although they aren’t expected to make a significant dent in active wildfires. And the rain could bring its own set of problems: The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for parts of southwest Oregon.
“An unusually moist air mass over the region will combine with thunderstorms to produce the threat of heavy rainfall. If these heavy rains fall on burn scar areas, dangerous runoff could result,” the agency wrote.
State Forester Peter Daugherty said during a meeting of the Oregon Board of Forestry in Salem that fire suppression costs have passed $238 million this year.
Approximately 10 percent of that amount has been costs sustained by fighting fires on state-owned land. Most years, the bulk of the land that burns in Oregon is federally owned.