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Hot, dry forecast has Oregon fire officials preparing for the worst

Burn bans are in effect in Multnomah and Washington counties, and the Oregon State Fire Marshal has sent crews to Central Oregon in anticipation of possible fires.

HILLSBORO, Ore. — Firefighters from several agencies in the Willamette Valley traveled to Central Oregon Tuesday to prepare for potential wildfires amid hot, dry weather. 

The Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office called in a task force comprised of firefighters from the Tualatin Valley, Hillsboro, Banks and Marion County. Task force leader Dan Griffin spoke to KGW from Redmond, Ore. after they arrived. 

“It's very dry over here. It's as dry here as it normally is in August. There's lightening in the forecast in the next 72 hours, and we expect to have some fires start because of that,” said Griffin, battalion chief with Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue.

Griffin said he fully expects they will be called out to work. 

The state ordered the unique tactic of putting the extra firefighters in place ahead of time.

“Because if we can stop these fires when they're small it prevents them from getting larger and then we have a bigger problem on our hands, so our office is really kind of looking toward prevention, said spokesperson John Hendricks.

It's all about prevention in the Portland area as well, where there is plenty to burn. Firefighters are asking everyone to be especially careful.

There is a burn ban in effect in Washington County for all fires except barbeques and small cooking fires on private property. Multnomah County also has a burn ban in effect as of Tuesday. There are others as well. Check with your local fire agency for details. 

Eric Wise, a predictive services meteorologist with the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, says more very, hot dry conditions are on the way. 

“And just with that heat we will be getting into a critical burn environment where things get warm enough and dry enough it will be like tinder waiting to get lit.”

Wise says east of the Cascades especially, the prospect of thunderstorms and potentially dry lightning will continue after the weekend.

“The final straw is it looks like we may have some more thunderstorms coming in early next week, so any lightening activity on top of several days of very hot weather certainly could spell some issues,” said Wise.

On the north end of the Warm Springs Reservation, a wildfire dubbed the S-503 Fire has already burned thousands of acres since it started last week. 

Now extra caution has become a necessity. 

“To proactively go out there is kind of unique and maybe a result of what everything we witnessed last year, and a way to get ahead of the game on some of these wildfires,” said Kim Haughn, spokesperson for Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue.