SALEM, Ore. — Governor Kate Brown on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in Oregon prompted by the growing threat of wildfire, as many counties experience "Extreme" fire danger and intermittant Red Flag warnings for hot, dry and windy conditions and a series of dry thunderstorm.
Brown's office cited a handful of sizable wildfires this season that have caused evacuations, threatened infrastructure, and destroyed homes and other structures — much of which can be attributed to the recent Mosier Fire in the Columbia River Basin.
"The wildfire season has escalated in Oregon this summer, and fire crews are working in extreme temperatures to keep homes and resources safe during this pandemic," Brown said. "Given drought conditions and hotter than usual temperatures, Oregonians should be prepared for an intense wildfire season this summer. I'm committed to making state resources available to ensure crews have the resources they need on the ground and across the state. I urge the public to use extreme caution and be mindful of fire restrictions to protect the beauty and bounty of our state."
Oregon law provides for an emergency declaration when "a threat to life, safety, and property exists" due to the threat of wildfire. The result is largely administrative — making it easier for the Oregon Department of Forestry, the state Fire Marshal's office, and the Oreogn Office of Emergency Management to share personnel, equipment, and other resources during response to wildfires.
"The Oregon National Guard will deploy firefighting resources as needed and in accordance with Operations Agreement Smokey 2020 throughout the remainder of the fire season based upon threat and resource shortfalls," Brown's office said. "The Oregon Health Authority will continue to provide guidance and assist with mitigating the spread of COVID-19 at wildland fire facilities and camps, emergency shelters, and evacuation centers."
While fire crews in Oregon have so far kept fires thus far from causing major destruction, California has been beset by a flurry of lightning-sparked fires this week that have destroyed an untold number of homes.