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Out-of-state firefighters return to Oregon for 2022 wildfire season

Remains of the devastation from the 2020 Beachie Creek Fire are still evident in the small town of Gates, Feb. 26, 2021.
Kristyna Wentz-Graff
/
OPB
Remains of the devastation from the 2020 Beachie Creek Fire are still evident in the small town of Gates, Feb. 26, 2021.

Forestry officials say they’re bringing back firefighters from other parts of the country this week for Oregon’s wildfire season.

The Oregon Department of Forestry’s move comes after fire season was declared in the state’s central and southern counties, and a heat wave during the first weekend of summer created dry conditions.

The recent wet spring weather delayed Oregon’s fire season, giving Oregon crews time to fight fires in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, California and Alaska.

“We seized and utilized that opportunity to keep our firefighters trained, keep our firefighters sharp, mentally and physically. All in all we’re hoping to have a better, more well-rounded firefighting force in Oregon when fire season really does turn on here,” said Blake Ellis, the fire operations manager at ODF.

Ellis said that agencies are still looking for recruits in Medford, in the Willamette Valley and across the state.

Oregon’s fire season now includes a large wildfire that ignited Tuesday in Eastern Oregon. The Willowcreek Fire burned roughly 40,000 acres in its first day.

Copyright 2022 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Nathan Wilk