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Fire Managers Declare Start To Fire Season In Oregon

<p>Smoke rises from a fire on Cougar Butte in southern Oregon. Fire managers declared a start to wildfire season in Oregon in early June 2017.</p>

Courtesy of Oregon Department of Forestry

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Smoke rises from a fire on Cougar Butte in southern Oregon. Fire managers declared a start to wildfire season in Oregon in early June 2017.

The Oregon Department of Forestry says wildfire season has officially begun in four regions of the state. 

Mike Shaw is the district forester for ODF’s Central Oregon district. He said this year’s heavy snowpack made for a slightly later-than-usual start to the season. 

“As the snowpack melts and recedes to higher elevation, the lower- and mid-elevation ground becomes available to burn, provided we don’t get much spring rain,” Shaw said.

Spring rain has been limited in central, eastern and southwest Oregon — regions where the fire season is now in full swing. Fire managers say it’s important that campers and others take extra precautions with fire. 

“When we go into fire season that is kind of the heads up to the public that yeah, we need to be careful with the activities that we do out in the wild land,” Shaw said.

As of June 5, 84 fires were reported on ODF-protected lands in Oregon. These burned just over 100 acres. More than 70 of those fires were caused by people. Three-fifths of the fires occurred in southern and central Oregon ODF districts.

After a wet, cool winter and spring in much of the state, there have been fewer fires to date statewide compared with the 10-year average for this time of year.

Portions of the following counties are affected by fire prevention restrictions: Crook, Deschutes, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Hood River, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Morrow, Umatilla, Wheeler and Wasco.

ODF-protected lands covered by the declaration include state, private, county, city forestland, as well as Bureau of Land Management forestlands in western Oregon.

Copyright 2017 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Amanda Peacher