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Wetter conditions seen across PNW as wildfire season approaches

Burnt trees on hill.
Brian Bull
Charred hillside near Blue River where the Holiday Farm Fire burned 173,000 acres. This photo was taken on May 8, 2024.

A forestry official says the 2024 Oregon wildfire season looks to be a moderate one so far. 

Forest official near woods.
Brian Bull
Oregon Dept. of Forestry PIO Al De Vos, who's with Incident Management Team 2, at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest.

Al De Vos is a public information officer with the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Incident Management Team 2. He told KLCC that at this point, the outlook between now and late June is fairly decent across Oregon, Washington, and northern California. 

“We're looking pretty well in terms of snowpack and precipitation and whatnot,” said De Vos. “But a couple months in, there’s certain areas that are a little more on the dry side.” 

De Vos said come summer, fire managers be doing weekly outlooks. He added that even in damp conditions, all it takes is a few days of sustained easterly winds to dry out terrain and make it susceptible to fire. 

“So even though we have non-drought or normal precipitation conditions there are still fire risks out there,” he said. 

Officials say it will be essential for campers to thoroughly put out their fires, and abide by burning bans enacted by counties once the weather gets warmer. 

One incident has already been reported this year in Oregon: the Little Yamsay Fire in Klamath County, though fire managers say the blaze is under control and is now being used as a prescribed burn. 

Forest firefighter spraying water on burning brush.
During a firing operation on the Little Yamsay Fire, an engine crew member sprays water to cool down a large-diameter Ponderosa Pine.

Increasingly warm and dry conditions have been recorded through many parts of the Pacific Northwest in recent years. A particularly damp and heavy winter has helped alleviate drought conditions in many areas of Oregon. 

Copyright 2024, KLCC.


Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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