MOUNT HOOD, Ore. -- People from all over the world are converging on Mount Hood Thursday night for the annual Hood to Coast relay.
But this year, the relay comes with a warning from firefighters: Do not set off even a spark!
The fire danger on the mountain is already high. Add all those extra people and more than 1,000 transport vans to the mix, we could see a grassfire ignite, according to Hoodland Fire Chief John Ingrao.
"All the moisture is gone," he said pointing to some grass along Highway 26. "These fuels are cured out and they are just tinder...something very easy..a cigarette, someone parking with a catalytic converter, can easily light these."
As a result, Hoodland Fire has brought in brush fire rigs from surrounding towns and will be staffing up this weekend.
"I'm staffing up for 55 personnel, combat personnel, to fight fires and our normal staffing each day is nine," Ingrao said.
Race planners have also prepared. In addition to the no smoking ban, bonfires will be banned as well.
"No fires on the beach which is a new thing this year... we strongly suggest that people carry fire extinguishers in their vans and at every race exchange. We'll have fire extinguishers as well," explained Hood To Coast COO Dan Floyd.
Race organizers will also be in close radio contact with Hoodland Fire, in case there is a problem.
Chief Ingrao said it could take hours for back up to get to Mount Hood if a fire broke out, due to resources already committed to the many fires burning in Oregon.
"That’s a significant concern," he said.