Government, Oregon, wildfire

Gov. Brown declares state of emergency over wildfire risk

A six-acre wildfire burned in the Tillamook Forest on April 14, 2020. Photo: ODF

Local and state officials are increasingly warning of significant fire danger ahead of the Independence Day weekend, and now Governor Kate Brown has taken the step of declaring a state of emergency for all of Oregon over wildfire danger.

“The threat of wildfire in Oregon is imminent,” a press release from the Governor’s office read. 

Brown signed the declaration on Tuesday.

In fact, the threat is already occurring; in Dufur, where the Wrentham Market Fire is now around 10,000 acres, according to the Office of the State Fire Marshal. A task force that includes Washington County firefighters is aiding local crews in fighting the fire.  

The fire known as Incident 422 in Redmond was 200 acres on Tuesday, with the earlier Antler Fire in the same area contained. 

Other fires are popping up across the state, with local fire agencies engaging in a whack-a-mole effort to keep small brush fires from turning into something bigger. 

19 of Oregon’s 36 counties are in drought emergencies, and much of the state remains under weather conditions that will see highs of triple-digit temperatures, and red flag conditions.

“Oregon is still recovering from the devastation of last year’s wildfires, which resulted in nine Oregonians losing their lives and thousands more losing their homes,” said Brown in a press release. “With wildfires already sparking this year, it is imperative that we act now to prevent further loss—of life, property, business, and our natural resources.

“I issued this emergency declaration to ensure every resource is made available for firefighting efforts and to the crews striving to protect our state. With fire seasons increasingly starting earlier and lasting longer, it is up to each of us to do our part to prevent wildfires and be prepared for the ones we can’t prevent. I am urging Oregonians to take charge in preventing human-caused fires by being prepared, safe, responsible, and aware.”

The emergency declaration lasts until November 1 or until Brown deems the threat reduced enough to rescind the order.

The move allows the Oregon Department of Forestry and the Oregon Office of the State Fire Marshal — under direction from the Oregon Office of Emergency Management — to tap into resources, equipment, and personnel from other state agencies and beyond.

Also noted was that the Oregon National Guard could be deployed to aid in firefighting if state and national resources are limited.

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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