Another week, another series of fires emerged across Oregon stretching fire crews and equipment to the limits in an ongoing theme likely to stretch into the fall. The dry winter was an ominous sign of the busy fire season to come, and it has proven true with Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber declaring a state of emergency and Sen. Ron Wyden pursuing additional emergency funding for fighting wildfires. See related article in this edition of the Examiner.
Over 20 active wildfires across Oregon are currently being suppressed by fire crews, the largest being the ongoing Buzzard Complex near Burns, which has charred over 395,000 acres. While many of these fires are the result of lightning strikes, human causes such as mismanaged campfires have also been to blame for starting blazes. Citizens are reminded to take extra precaution when starting a campfire to ensure it is completely extinguished with water and soil before departing, and to observe the public land use restrictions currently in place.
While Lake County has emerged largely unscathed to date by comparison to other devastated parts of the state, local fire crews have remained very active assisting with fires around Oregon. The most recent blaze to spark nearby is the Ferguson Fire, located roughly 30 miles east of Klamath Falls in Klamath County near the community of Beatty. This fire began on Friday, July 25, with the cause still under investigation, currently having burned 200 acres with two structures confirmed consumed and others threatened. Fire crews have the fire 75 percent contained as of Monday, July 28, with around 150 personnel on scene. The availability of fire crews within close proximity when the fire was first spotted assisted greatly with keeping the blaze to within only 200 acres.
While many of the current fires across Oregon are in mop up stages, a low front moving in this week could cause more thunderstorms and dry lightning, sparking a whole new round of fires to emerge. Fire dangers remain at extreme levels, and residents are asked to use tremendous caution when working around dry grasses, in the forest, or when recreating on public lands.