BEND, OR -- This year’s fire season has been devastating, and it’s not over yet. Jean Nelson-Dean, with the Deschutes National Forest, says we’re only halfway through the season. "Throughout Oregon and Washington, we have 28 what we call large fires – those are primarily fires that are over 100 acres in timber. And, when you look at that, a lot of those fires that we’re categorizing are actually what we call complexes, so there are several small fires within each one of those 28."
While the total impact of the year’s devastating fires isn’t yet known, Nelson-Dean tells KBND News the Redmond Air Center has already used a massive amount of fire retardant. "We’re not even through the fire season, and we’ve exceeded our 10-year average by about 400,000 gallons, which is quite a bit of retardant; and we still have at least half the fire season left to go."
She says the season has been so tough because of the wet winter and spring, which led to a large crop of grass and other fuels. "It’s really the severe drying; that’s the real issue. We’ve gone without any kind of moisture for a long time, and these high temperature in August, they take all the moisture that we got built up in our large fuels; they’ve already sucked it out and we still have September. And, some of our largest fires have actually occurred in September, so it’s not over yet." Aside from a trace of moisture in mid-August, Central Oregon hasn’t seen any measurable precipitation in about three months. "Probably every firefighter out there is desperate for rain. Every person managing these fires, every evacuee, every person who has asthma, their kids have asthma, they’re praying for rain. I wish there was some way that we could really get some significant moisture. Certainly we’re going to get our arms around some of these fires, but to really end the season, we need some significant moisture." She admits it could be early October before the region gets enough rain to bring an end to this fire season.
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