According to recent news reports, about 50 homes northwest of Bend in central Oregon remain under an evacuation notice after two fires that ignited Saturday near Tumalo Reservoir joined together, burning nearly 6,800 acres of brush and timber. Thankfully, the Two Bulls Fire has not caused any injuries or serious structure damage to date, and families from about 200 homes were allowed to return home late Sunday, though they remain on “stand by” should fire officials request another evacuation order due to dangerous and changing conditions.
The Oregon Department of Forestry states on its website that the factors that contributed to a devastating wildfire season in 2013 are once again threating the state and could lead to a very active fire season this year. Factors like drought, dried fuels and lightning are being blamed for the increase of wildfire activity not only here in Oregon, but across the western half of the country as well, so early in the year. For those who remember, in 2013 powerful thunderstorms with little rain ignited several large fires in southwestern and central Oregon leading to the worst season in 60 years on state-protected lands. If widespread dry lightning occurs in 2014, say officials, Oregonians should expect another active fire season.
And well, even if we can't invent a machine that could control the weather (think thunderstorms) that leads to lightning-caused fires, we, as residents, can help reduce the number of human-caused fires in our area, take action to help prepare for a wildfire event and reduce our risk for damage, as best we can.
NFPA has a great webpage that provides steps you can take before, during and after a wildfire. Check it out. Want something you can download? Our safety tips sheet and Firewise homeowners checklist are pefect to print out and stick to your fridge. With this wildfire season starting so early in the year, why don't we all make a pledge to help our families, friends and neighbors stay safer this summer.
Find tips on wildfire preparedness and prevention, campfire safety, using equipment responsibly, fire-resistant landscaping and creating defensible space around your home on the Firewise and your state's department of forestry websites.
Photo courtesy of KATU/Portland, Oregon.