MEDFORD, Ore. – It’s been a season of wildfires across Oregon this year, leading to a record number of burned acres. Fire managers say 2012 may be the biggest wildfire season on record for the Northwest with more than a million acres burned.
The burned areas in Oregon and Washington are six times larger than last year’s totals and fire season is not over yet. It wasn’t the amount of wildfires in the northwest, it was the sheer size of them. Some of the wildfires in Oregon and Washington reached hundreds of thousands of acres, giving the Northwest its largest wildfire year on record.
According to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, wildfires burned about 1.5 million acres in Oregon and Washington. In comparison, last year only saw about 281,000 burned acres and the ten year average was 470,000 acres in the Northwest.
Southwest Oregon was spared major fires, but other areas weren’t so lucky. The long draw wildfire burned more than 550,000 acres this summer in southeast Oregon and the Barry Point Fire burned 93,000 acres near Lakeview. Those major fires were difficult for fire crews to access.
“Largely have occurred on National Forest Lands or other federal lands where there’s not a lot of immediate access by road. A little harder to get to all aspects of those burning areas,” said Oregon Department of Forestry Spokesman Brian Ballou.
The total numbers are still being finalized, but fire season is not over in Oregon. In southwest Oregon, the fire danger level is still at extreme and restrictions on burning and equipment use are still in effect.