BEND, OR -- With containment increasing on the Golden Fire in Klamath County, the incident management team has turned over command to a local team. But, with the nearly 11,000-acre Bedrock Fire, east of Eugene, still sending smoke into Central Oregon, we’re far from the end of fire season. That fire is just 5% contained. The National Weather Service also predicts an increased threat of thunderstorms beginning Thursday, which could significantly increase the risk of wildfire in Central Oregon.
Jaimie Olle, with the Deschutes National Forest, says federally managed lands in Central Oregon have seen an uptick in human-caused fires, "We’ve seen 95 human-caused starts this summer, in comparison with 28 lightning-caused starts. Most of those, she says, are completely preventable, "We have had a number of abandoned or escaped campfires across the area."
Under current restrictions, campfires are only allowed in certain campgrounds, "If you are in a designated developed campground and you had a campfire, make sure that campfire is dead out before you head out. That means it’s cold to the touch, you’ve stirred water under it together and there’s not a single ember left." She tells KBND News, "In addition to campfires, it’s all of those normal fire precautions, like not driving on dry or dead vegetation, properly discarding smoking materials, things like that. Anything that they can do to help prevent a spark, can help prevent another human-caused wildfire."
The Forest Service frequently refers to this as "Dirty August." it’s Central Oregon’s driest month and the time we see the most new starts and reduced air quality. "As folks will well note, we haven’t had any rain in the forecast for quite some time, so conditions are very dry; particularly those fine fuels like grasses and brush have really dried out," says Olle, "So, if you’re out recreating, anything you can do to help prevent a spark is going to help our firefighters be successful this season."
Jayson Prentice, Air Resources Advisor on the Bedrock Fire, says the smoky pattern will continue at least another day, "In the morning, [we] see that smoke drifting to the southwest, impacts areas - especially Oakridge in the morning hours. We do have some along McKenzie Road and out towards La Pine and Bend that kind of settle in the morning. Those conditions will improve gradually throughout the afternoon." He adds, "Most areas should see good to moderate air quality for the afternoon hours. Then, as we get into the evening again, we’ll see the smoke start to drift out to the east/southeast, with those northwesterly winds, and we’ll see more smoke impacts for La Pine and other areas into the overnight again, potentially reaching up to unhealthy at times." La Pine’s air quality has dipped into the “unhealthy for everyone” category several times in recent days. You can check air quality in your area, and see the latest advisories HERE.
Photo: The Bedrock Fire, as seen from the Little Cowhorn Lookout, 07/28/2023