BEND, OR -- The Juniper Creek Fire (pictured) that started Sunday near Lake Billy Chinook is just the latest in a slew of suspected human-caused fires in Central Oregon, this season. Jaimie Olle, with the Deschutes National Forest, says with six weeks left in the season, the number of suspected human-caused starts has already hit 132, and just 39 started by lightning. "That’s a significant number of fires that were preventable," says Olle, "We typically see 164 human-caused starts and 203 lightning-caused starts, and that’s over the span of the entire fire season for Central Oregon."
Olle tells KBND News, "Early in the season, we saw a significant number of abandoned campfires. So, whether folks left the site and didn’t extinguish them at all or didn’t extinguish it fully, we found a number of those creeping and smoldering outside of the rings. Outside of that, a human-caused start can be anything from a tow chain dragging and causing a spark or improperly discarding smoking materials, or heavy equipment use."
And, despite the remnants of Hurricane Hillary sending a little rain over parts of eastern and Central Oregon this week, our fire season is far from over, "That’s not enough of a wetting rain or precipitation to negate the fire season that we’re currently seeing." She adds, "While we do have some rain in the forecast, things are still hot and dry and will continue to be so. Our predictive services outlook shows that we will have elevated risk for fire through August and September, as we have historically seen in Central Oregon."
Olle reminds everyone to follow public use restrictions while recreating outdoors, secure tow chains so they don’t send out a spark, don’t toss those cigarette butts out of the window and make sure campfires are dead out before you leave.