“We must be prepared. Each and every one of us," Gov. Kate Brown said during a media briefing concerning Oregon's wildfires.
As of this week, there were currently nine wildfires, consuming over 450,000 acres, burning across Oregon. The largest, at nearly 400,00 acres is the Bootleg Fire in Southern Oregon. That fire began July 7 northwest of Klamath Falls and has destroyed 21 homes and several other buildings, according to fire officials. The Bootleg Fire is now one of Oregon’s largest ever wildfires.
Teams from Utah and California have partnered with Oregon to respond to the Bootleg Fire in the Fremont-Winema National Forest in Lakeview. Fire officials said the wildfire, which is believed to have been triggered by lighting, was over 30 percent contained by Wednesday morning.
“The weather conditions – windy and dry with lightning – are truly problematic,” Brown said during the media briefing Tuesday, July 20. “It's shaping up to be another difficult wildfire season.”
There are extensive drought conditions throughout the state, with 19 counties in drought emergencies, according to Oregon fire officials.
Department of Forestry Fire Chief Doug Grafe said the drought conditions across Oregon are driving the fire potential.
“Ninety percent of the state is in exceptional, extreme or severe drought conditions,” Grafe said.
The heat dome in late June – with 100 plus degrees – propelled the state into early fire conditions. There have been 580 fires to date.
“The remainder of the season continues to look above normal dry and above normal temperatures,” Grafe said. “This is not going to return to normal anytime soon.”
The Elbow Creek Fire began July 15 and has grown over 16,000 acres and is 15 percent contained, Grafe said. The fire is in the Grande Ronde River drainage near Mud Springs. A fire fighting task force from Columbia County joined other firefighters at that location this week. Previously the Columbia County team had been assisting at the Grandview Fire, reported July 11, located near Sisters. That wildfire was close to full contained this week at approximately 6,032 acres.
“Being prepared is one of the best ways you can help frontline firefighters do theirs jobs,” Brown said. “Make a plan with your family, sign up for local alerts at oralert.gov so you’re aware of fires in your community.”
Fire officials in Lincoln County and across the state continued to urge everyone to be aware, to be cautious and to be prepared due to the heightened wildfire dangers.
The following emergency preparation recommendations can be found online at Ready.gov
Recognize Warnings and Alerts
Have several ways to receive alerts. Download the FEMA app and receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide. Sign up for community alerts in your area and be aware of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA)- which requires no-sign up.
Pay attention to air quality alerts.
Make an emergency plan
Make sure everyone in your household knows and understands what to do if you need to quickly evacuate.
Review your evacuation zone
• You may have to evacuate quickly due to a wildfire. Learn your evacuation routes, practice with household, pets, and identify where you will go.
• If you must evacuate to a public shelter, try to bring items that can help protect you and others in the shelter from COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer, cleaning materials, and two masks per person. Children under 2 years old and people who have trouble breathing should not wear masks.
• Follow the instructions from local authorities. They will provide the latest recommendations based on the threat to your community and appropriate safety measures.
Review important documents
• Make sure your insurance policies and personal documents like ID are up to date.
• Make copies and keep them in a secure password protected digital space.
Have enough supplies for your household, include medication, disinfectant supplies, masks, pet supplies in your go bag or car trunk. Being prepared allows you to address smaller medical issues at home, alleviating the burden on urgent care centers and hospitals.
Strengthen you home
• Use fire-resistant materials to build, renovate or make repairs.
• Find an outdoor water source with a hose that can reach any area of your property.
• Create a fire-resistant zone that is free of leaves, debris or flammable materials for at least 30 feet from your home.
• Designate a room that can be closed off from outside air. Close all doors and windows. Set up a portable air cleaner to keep indoor pollution levels low when smoky conditions exist.
See more preparation recommendations and what you need to know when returning home after being evacuated by wildfires at, https://wildfire.oregon.gov/