BEND, OR -- A mild winter has resulted in low snowpack across Oregon, and officials are worried about the upcoming wildfire season. Carol Connolly with the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center tells KBND they are bracing for a tough summer. "It could prove to be a challenging year for Central Oregon and throughout the Pacific Northwest. Several counties have already declared drought emergencies by the Governor and there are other drought conditions out there."
Despite the current data, Connolly admits it's difficult to know what's ahead. "There's no way to predict how big the fire year will be, no way to predict the largest fires in Central Oregon," she says. "But, indications from the past look at trends and it looks like it will be a similar fire season as last year." She says in 2014, "We had 19 fire management teams and 1.3 million acres burned. We had 12,000 firefighters in Oregon and California. One of the things that can happen- we may be in competition for these resources ina big fire year."
Connolly says Oregon's wildfire season typically gets underway in June. Right now, the southeast portion of the state is consideredthe driest.
Photo: Two Bulls Fire, Bend 2014
Oregon's Department of Forestry will take part in National Fire Community Preparedness Day, in advance of the coming wildfire season. Jenna Nelson says 65 projects will take place across the state, Saturday. "There are two main things we're focusing on: creating defensible space around the home and making access and availability for firefighters to come in and help protect your home if a wildfire were to come through." She says homeowners should focus on removing brush under trees.
To learn more about the FireWise program and local projects happening this weekend, click HERE