BEND, OR -- It's the start of fire season in the Deschutes National Forest, and Fire Managers are preparing to handle any wildfires sparked before snow hits. Jean Nelson Dean, with the Forest Service, says a lot of years there are already big fires by this time, and that may be why people think the fire season has been slow to start this year. "Oftentimes, we get some larger fires out in our shrub and grass and we didn't really see that this year. That's because it started warming in June, and then we had a fairly wet July."
Every year, she says, is different when it comes to carelessness and lightning, and there's no way to know if this could be a busy one. "We still have a lot of fire season left to go, and I would say we're more on-trend than really, slow, it's just we haven't had fires like we've had in recent years." She says this is really the time of year when things start to get busy. "We, in firefighting, tend to call it 'Dirty August,' because that's when, usually, we really see the most of fire season. so, we're still in it and still have a lot of lightning ahead of us."
She says crews are prepared for whatever is going to happen this season. "The reason that we have a fire adapted ecosystem is because we tend to get these lightning storms, we tend to get them in August, and we tend to get them along the crest of the cascades that acts as a lightning rod, and at this point, we're starting to see that activity." They're preparing their gear and studying the forecast. "We're still ready for fire season. We have resources responding to what's out there now, just making sure we're in good shape, and hope that we continue to get a lot of moisture with the lightning, when we do get lightning."
She says the current fires are contained. There are 3 new small blazes, one on private lands near Sisters, and the others are east of Prineville. Nelson Dean says Fire Crews' main job right now is patrolling for new fires and following up on smoke reports.