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Fire agencies prepared and ready for increases in wildfires

On Wednesday, eight fire agencies including Rural Metro Fire, Medford Fire & Rescue, the Oregon Department of Forestry, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and more addressed concerns of how they will handle an increase in wildfire during the 2021 Fire Season.

Posted: Jun 23, 2021 2:57 PM
Updated: Jun 23, 2021 4:29 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. -- On Wednesday, eight fire agencies including Rural Metro Fire, Medford Fire & Rescue, the Oregon Department of Forestry, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and more addressed concerns of how they will handle the increases in wildfires during the 2021 Fire Season.

"We remain poised to engage this summer," said Fire District 3 Chief Mike Hussey. "From your smallest rural fire district in Prospect, to Wolf Creek, down to the valley floor, we are all engaged to working together and we will come to the fight."

According to the ODF Southwest, more than 130 wildfires have started and have burned around 200 acres since the wildfire season began in Jackson and Josephine counties a little more than a month ago. Officials have told NewsWatch 12 that the 130 plus wildfires equals out to about a 250% increase compared what the counties usually experience.

"You go back 10-15 years ago and we would typically experience active fire behavior in late June or earlier July," said ODFSW's Tyler McCarty. "Now we are seeing fire danger and we are running on a lot of fires in late March and early April and things are really speeding up."

But thanks to an increase in communication and collaboration between fire agencies, the amount of land burned in those wildfires have been kept in check.

"This summer we are all going to be standing together shoulder to shoulder trying to keep fires as small as possible to protect our communities and are natural resources," said McCarty.

Multiple fire agencies said on Wednesday that resources have remained relatively the same since last year, with some agencies increasing the amount of engines or helicopters at their disposal. 

ODF says that they are staffing 22 engines, two type two helicopters and have even added a next generation air tanker. BLM says that it has over 200 firefighters, three engines and even a veteran fire crew for this season.

Over the last several months, the U.S. Forest in the Rogue-River Siskiyou National Forest has been working on prescribed burns to minimize the chances of a new wildfire from starting and says that they are halfway towards their goal.

"What have we done to prepare our communities since last season to protect them from fires, well we've applied 4,000 acres of prescribed burns on our lands which is aggressively moving us to our 8,000 target directed by the region," said Deputy Fire & Aviation Staff Officer Dan Quinones.

However, Quinones acknowledges that 4,000 acres of prescribed burns is not enough and says that the U.S. Forest Service is working on increasing the pace and scale of those prescribed burns to help keep the surrounding community safe. 

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 218689

Reported Deaths: 2855
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah41723618
Washington27764258
Marion24459332
Clackamas19888241
Lane14804174
Jackson12522155
Deschutes1052887
Umatilla950594
Linn624882
Yamhill506281
Klamath494179
Douglas446188
Polk429357
Josephine413675
Malheur366467
Benton345322
Jefferson249342
Coos230439
Columbia208132
Union167124
Wasco154631
Lincoln153522
Crook139224
Hood River125934
Morrow122317
Clatsop116310
Baker109317
Curry77912
Tillamook7495
Grant5627
Lake4878
Harney45811
Wallowa2286
Gilliam871
Sherman862
Wheeler421
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 3944933

Reported Deaths: 64386
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles129358324677
Riverside3079224659
San Bernardino3062735236
San Diego2950543798
Orange2817905143
Santa Clara1230832099
Sacramento1152001777
Kern1130711425
Fresno1044581746
Alameda958261282
Ventura835231043
San Joaquin769151460
Contra Costa75842832
Stanislaus657091091
Tulare50363854
Monterey44484528
San Mateo44477588
San Francisco40144561
Solano35703262
Santa Barbara35647467
Merced32961484
Sonoma32665330
Imperial29096745
Placer25146307
Kings23611250
San Luis Obispo21970265
Madera17024249
Santa Cruz16616207
Marin14825239
Yolo14801215
Butte13184205
Shasta12963242
El Dorado11063120
Napa1042082
Sutter10159126
Yuba698551
San Benito627463
Lassen588127
Tehama586466
Nevada535075
Humboldt504553
Mendocino468351
Tuolumne449573
Lake423865
Amador387048
Siskiyou256140
Glenn246427
Colusa235718
Calaveras230758
Del Norte16438
Inyo145338
Mono13255
Plumas7656
Modoc5737
Mariposa4987
Trinity4626
Sierra1290
Alpine890
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