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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

7/18/2017 Wildland Fire Minute

It’s hot and dry across the Northwest, in fact, our fuels are drying two to three weeks ahead of normal. Combine that with the abundance of grass from a wet winter and spring, and that means conditions are ripe to burn.

Almost five years to the day, Oregon experienced the largest wildfire in its history. In 2012, Oregon's wildfires set the record for acres burned. The Long Draw Fire started on July 8th and burned over 556,000 acres and covered 872 square miles before the fire was contained.

The burned area was located between Jordan Valley, Oregon and McDermitt, Nevada. Over the last several years the BLM and its partners have been doing the necessary rehabilitation and restoration work and BLM has planted shrubs and seed areas to help restore sage-grouse habitat and rangelands for grazing in southeastern Oregon.

While we had lightning in parts of the Northwest last weekend, the number of human-caused fires in Oregon and Washington is far out-pacing any lightning starts. To date 894 fires have been reported, 481 in Oregon with 65 percent human-caused and 413 in Washington state of which 95 percent were human-caused. The total cost for Northwest fires to date? Nearly $23 million!

Folks, we all need to do our part to prevent unwanted human-caused fires. Several fires are still under investigation, but we know the 6000-acre Ana Fire near Summer Lake, Oregon, was caused by shooting explosive targets. While it started on private land, it quickly spread to both BLM and Forest Servicelands, and burned at least three structures.

With no rain in the forecast and a continued hot, dry trend, we ask that you exercise caution. Please ensure your campfire is cool to the touch before leaving it. Ensure your chainsaws or four-wheelers have appropriate spark arrestors. Avoid driving or parking on dry grass. Put smoking materials in the proper receptacle and not on ground. If you’re welding or using a cutting torch, have water and a shovel nearby and do your work early in the morning.

To learn more about the latest wildland fire conditions in the Pacific Northwest head on over to:

Video by Michael Campbell, BLM -- Graphics by Matt Christenson, BLM – Featuring Traci Weaver, BLM/U.S. Forest Service.

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