Fire, Oregon, Washington County

National Weather Service: ‘Unseasonably high fire danger throughout this week’

A burn pile that escaped control on NW Strohmeyer Rd on Tuesday, April 13. Photo: Forest Grove Fire & Rescue

11:15 a.m.: A burn ban will go into effect at 12 p.m., local fire agencies announced.

9:07 am.: This story has been updated with more information from the Oregon Department of Forestry

The Portland office of the National Weather Service issued a “special weather statement” Tuesday evening in advance of what the federal agency referred to as “unseasonably high fire danger” expected this week.

With forecasters expecting highs in the upper 70’s and low 80’s throughout the week and weekend, local fire officials, weather forecasters, and forestry staff are all urging caution.

“Last night Columbia City unit responded to a ½ acre fire. We are recommending no warming fires on your operations and checking any piles from last fall,” Oregon Department of Forestry Forest Grove District Forester Mike Cafferata said in an email Wednesday morning.

To see if burning is allowed, call your local fire agency — Banks Fire District can be reached at 503-324-6262 option 5, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue at 503-259-1789 — before setting yard debris ablaze.

The NWS said that the combination of dry weather, high temperatures, low relative humidity had combined to create drier vegetation than is usual for this time of year, elevating the potential for wildfires.

“Although winds are expected to diminish Wednesday, humidity in general will remain low and afternoon temperatures will be above normal. Another round of gusty offshore flow is expected later this week, prolonging the unseasonably warm, dry weather and keeping fire danger elevated through the upcoming weekend,” the NWS said.

The fire danger is enough that the Portland NWS moved up plans to issue daily fire weather planning forecasts. Originally scheduled to resume April 19, NWS Portland said they have “been monitoring the unseasonably warm, dry, and breezy conditions across the district and have decided to commence once-a-day Fire Weather Forecasts this week.”

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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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