Banks, Environment, Weather

Officials urge caution with fire, outdoor activities as region enters heat wave

Washington County Fire Crews prepare to return home on Friday, June 25. Photo: OSFM

With record-breaking temperatures on the way this weekend, local health officials are urging Oregonians to take caution, and fire officials are urging people to not be the cause of a wildfire. 

The Portland office of the National Weather Service issued an “Excessive Heat Watch” Wednesday morning — now upgraded to an “Excessive Heat Warning” from Saturday at 10 a.m. to Monday at 11 p.m. — for almost the whole state of Oregon, including the entirety of Washington County. 

In Banks, the National Weather Service says that highs could reach 102 on Saturday, 109 on Sunday, and 101 degrees on Monday. 

“Community members are urged to check in with family, friends and neighbors, especially older adults and people with chronic medical problems, as they are more vulnerable to heat-related illness,” the Washington County Health and Human Services Department said in a press release

Washington County also established a webpage to deliver tips and tricks on staying cool

With the increase in temperature comes an increase in fire danger. Locally, most of the region’s forests in and around the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests moved to high fire danger Friday morning. 

“It will be critical that everyone gives their focused attention over the next several days, as we are quickly rolling into August conditions,” said Oregon Department of Forestry Astoria District Forester Dan Goody in an email to industrial forestry operators. 

Goody said that two inmate crews from South Fork Forest Camp would be on standby if needed in the event of wildfire, as would a helicopter in Salem and all local ODF units on duty over the weekend. 

A crew of Washington County firefighters from Banks Fire District 13, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, and Hillsboro Fire & Rescue returned home Friday morning from a deployment in Central Oregon, according to the Office of the State Fire Marshal. 

With the fire danger placed at high, OHV trails close, restricting such activities to maintained gravel roads in the designated OHV areas of Browns Camp, Lyda Camp, Jordan Creek, Trask and Diamond Mill.

Campfires must only be used in the ODF-installed metal fire grates unless otherwise posted, unless recreational users are using propane or gas camp stoves or propane or gas barbecue grills. 

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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