PORTLAND – The high temperatures are creating conditions for the possibility of wildfires even earlier in the season than usual, according to the experts.
Two fires sparked concern in Washington County last weekend near Banks and the town of Timber. They were both safely extinguished but prompted warnings of high fire dangers.
As of Sunday, Oregon Department of Forestry wildfire maps showed a “very high” potential for fires in Western Oregon and the Coast Range. Southeastern Oregon was expected to be the area with the highest risk for wildfires in the state.
"The conditions of the fuels will dry rapidly. We could be in for severe burning conditions," Jason Loomis with the Northwest Coordination Center said.
Statistics have shown that 60 percent of forest fires are caused by lightning, while 40 percent are caused by humans.
“Current forecast outlooks project drier than normal weather through the month of August. If true, this year's fire season could begin the last week of June,” said KGW Meteorologist Rod Hill. “Statistics show the length of a fire season is a key ingredient to the severity of the year. The Northwest could be in for the longest fire season in years, a good 4-6 weeks longer than 2011.”
Last year, fire season did not really take off until August, due to the record-wet spring.
The last time Oregon experienced what fire experts described as a “long, severe fire season” was in 2007.