Fire, ODF, Tillamook State Forest

Fire danger on the rise first part of this week

A burned area in a field at Finegan Farms. Photo: Forest Grove Fire & Rescue

NW OREGON – While the fire season has been mild for most of the northwestern portion of Oregon, the next few days — including today — will bring heightened danger as temperatures spike into the upper 90’s.

Much of the Willamette Valley has already been placed into a red flag warning by the Portland branch of the National Weather Service (NWS), with the federal weather service warning of dry winds, low humidity, and conditions that could be favorable to rapid fire spread.

Coastal regions and the coast range are also entering red flag warnings Tuesday morning, if they aren’t already under one.

“Conditions may be favorable for rapid fire spread which may threaten life and property. Use extra caution with potential ignition sources, especially in grassy areas. Outdoor burning is not recommended,” read a statement from the Portland NWS.

According to Forest Grove Fire & Rescue,“[A Red Flag Warning] means that weather conditions involving high temperatures, low humidity and winds could lead to extreme fire behavior.”

It’s not an idle warning. Earlier today, a flail malfunctioned and sparked a 1/4 acre fire at Finegan Farms on Kemper Road.

Emergency crews from the Cornelius Fire Department and Forest Grove Fire & Rescue contained the fire with assistance from workers at the farm.

In local forest area use, effective at 1 a.m. Tuesday, August 27, the Oregon Department of Forestry will ratchet the fire danger up from Industrial Forest Precaution Level (IFPL) 1 to IFPL 2 in much of the Tillamook State Forest and surrounding private forested areas, including in Gales Creek, Timber, and more.

For more information on industrial fire restrictions, click here.

For the general public, fire danger will move from moderate to high, with the most immediate impact being a complete closure of off-road trails in the Tillamook State Forest.

ATVs and other similar vehicles must stay on maintained gravel roads, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry. For more information on restrictions, click here.

In an email, Tillamook District Forester Kate Skinner noted that most of the local region had enjoyed a mild season, but that would change – albeit briefly – in the first part of this week.

“For most of this fire season, we have enjoyed seasonable temperatures and relative humidity levels. The first part of this week we will see a significant warm-up coupled with a significant drop in the [relative humidity],” she said.

“Fortunately,” Skinner later continued, “this new weather system is predicted to be relatively short-lived.”

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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