News, Weather, wildfire

Hot weather spurs heat watch, fire danger warnings

With mid-90s temperatures in the forecast, area officials are gearing up for a spell of dangerously hot weather that will elevate wildfire risk this weekend.

The Portland office of the National Weather Service issued an Excessive Heat Watch for most of Northwest Oregon effective Saturday afternoon through Monday evening.

“Extreme heat will significantly increase the potential for heat related illnesses, particularly for those working or participating in outdoor activities,” the NWS said.

Temperatures could spike as high as 95 degrees, with a minimum temperature of 65 degrees possible, keeping temperatures high even at night.

Other area agencies took action to get the word out about health issues associated with the weather and increased fire danger.

“I want to draw your attention to Saturday’s hot weather and Sunday’s breezy and hot weather,” Oregon Department of Forestry Forest Grove District Forester Mike Cafferata said in an email sent to area landowners. “Piles will spread under these conditions. Please check anything you have burned to make sure it is dead out,” he advised.

Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, which covers much of Washington County, banned backyard burning starting Friday. Readers in Roy and Mountaindale may be in TVF&R territory.

“Due to forecasted high temperatures and the potential for sustained winds, TVF&R is enacting a High Fire Danger Burn Ban,” the district said in a press release.

Specifically, the ban covers:

Backyard or open burning (branches, yard debris, etc.). 
Agricultural burning (agricultural wastes, crops, field burning, etc.). 
Any other land clearing, slash, stump, waste, debris or controlled burning.

It does not apply to small cooking, warming, or recreational fires, barbecue grills, smokers and similar cooking appliances with clean, dry firewood, briquettes, wood chips, pellets, propane, natural gas, or similar fuels.

Outdoor cooking, warming, or recreational fires must not exceed a fuel area of three feet in diameter and two feet in height, and must be in a safe location away from combustibles or vegetation.

And they must be fully put out after use.

TVF&R said the ban would stay in place “until weather patterns change and the heightened risk of fire has diminished.”

Forest Grove Fire & Rescue did not plan ban burning, according to FGF&R spokesperson Matt Johnston, noting that conditions were not yet dry here.

Also still on the books was a planned training burn near Kansas City.

Stay safe in water, vehicles, outdoors in hot weather

The National Weather Service urged people to monitor the latest forecasts and warnings, stay hydrated, stay out of the sun, and in air conditioned rooms.

“Check up on relatives and neighbors,” the agency urged.

“Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances. This is especially true during warm or hot weather when car interiors can reach lethal temperatures in a matter of minutes.”

The NWS also noted that despite the hot weather, area rivers and lakes remained cold.

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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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