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Holiday Rains Could Delay Fire Season

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MEDFORD, Ore. – What comes as a downer for many holiday vacationers could be a blessing for those open burns.

Just a couple weeks ago all signs pointed to an early fire season. Now the same rain causing an early end to camping could mean a later start for that fire season.

“A few weeks ago things were drying out really fast, really early,” said Medford Fire Captain Ken Goodson. “Looked like we were going to go into an early fire season.”

But now officials say the outlook has changed. The tall grass that was about to dry out and become kindling is now getting a second breath of life.

“We got the rain and it delayed fire season, which is really good,” said Goodson. “A lot of people like that. They get all their burning done.”

But even if fire season is later, it wouldn’t necessarily be safer. The rain means that tall grass is likely to grow. When it does dry out, it will be longer.

“The rain that we’re having now creates a good environment for the grasses to grow. It grows taller, more fuel to dry out later, which causes a little bit of a problem for us too,” said Goodson.

It also says nothing about the length of fire season. The longer it is, the worse it gets. And fire officials say the conditions that influence that are just about impossible to predict.

“It seems like the last two or three years we’ve had really wet springs. This year we had a really dry early spring. It’s just unpredictable,” said Goodson.

Fire officials recommend to use the extra time to clear some of that tall grass and vegetation around your property. They say once it dies and dries out, mowing it actually increases risk of fire.