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Scorched Earth: Oregon Enters Wildfire Awareness Month

Oregon is just one of nine states who have declared May to be 'Wildfire Awareness Month.' Officials are already getting the word out.

Posted: May 1, 2018 11:50 AM
Updated: May 1, 2018 11:54 AM

SALEM, Ore. — A lone home stands intact amidst a small island of trees and green grass, completely surrounded by fields of charred and blackened earth.

This home is the perfect example of residents that came prepared for wildfire, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), with dangerous 'fuels' having been cleared away around the house—although, from the looks of it, luck may have played a major role.

“Simple prevention strategies can make your home, family and community much safer. Spring is the perfect time to remove dead or flammable vegetation from around houses and other structures and to limb up trees around the yard. The goal is to reduce nearby fuels that pose a fire risk,” said ODF’s Fire Prevention Coordinator Tom Fields.


Wildfires at the border between urban areas and wildland are often started by human activity—burning debris or lawn mowing—which can spread into forests. Once underway, a fire follows fuel—whether it is trees, or houses.

“When it comes to preventing wildfires, there’s a lot at stake – lives, personal property, and the many resources provided by Oregon’s forests and rangelands,” said Kris Babbs, president of the Keep Oregon Green Association. “People caused more than 900 wildfires in Oregon last year. So people can make a big difference in reducing the number of wildfires.”

Wildfires burned more than 664,000 acres in Oregon last year—and 45 percent of those fires were caused by humans, according to ODF. Fires disrupted travel, degraded air quality, damaged homes, trails and spoiled other resources.

Governor Kate Brown, Babbs said, has partnered with Keep Oregon Green, the ODF, and the Office of State Fire Marshal to enlist public help and raise public awareness so that some of these devastating fires can be prevented in this and future fire seasons.

”It is vital that all Oregonians work with their neighbors to plan and prepare for fire season, especially in those areas currently experiencing drought as well as the more fire-prone landscapes of central and southwest Oregon. Educating yourself now about how fires can get started will be key in reducing wildfire starts,” said Babbs.

During the month of May, this partnership of Oregonian organizations will be sharing wildfire prevention topics to educate both homeowners and tourists on how to keep their outdoor activities from sparking the next wildfire.

According to the State Fire Marshall's office, this year's theme is 'Have you done enough to protect your home from wildfire?'

“The roof is the most critical part of the house when it comes to wildfire protection,” says State Fire Marshal Jim Walker. “Embers can collect and ignite on the roof, in gutters, and enter unscreened openings around the house. Although non-combustible roofing material is preferred, regardless of the construction, keep roofs, gutters and eaves clear of all leaves, pine needles and other flammable debris.”

To reduce risk of fire damage to homes, fire officials suggest removing dead vegetation for a minimum of 30 feet around your house. Most trees and healthy plants do not need to be removed—however, treees should be pruned and grass kept short (and as green as possible) to keep fire on the ground and more manageable by fire crews.

Local nurseries or an OSU Extension agent can let you know all about fire resistant plants.

It is a homeowners' responsibility, the Fire Marshal's office says, to protect their homes by building a 'defensible space.'

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 79293

Reported Deaths: 973
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah18432251
Washington11175104
Marion9745153
Clackamas684183
Lane458650
Umatilla450250
Jackson402838
Deschutes255815
Malheur247245
Yamhill181817
Linn164124
Polk134319
Douglas99819
Klamath9475
Jefferson87811
Benton8557
Union8158
Morrow6757
Lincoln67015
Josephine5795
Wasco55419
Columbia5444
Coos4583
Hood River4343
Clatsop3820
Baker3014
Crook2486
Curry1532
Tillamook1480
Lake1451
Grant1391
Harney1051
Wallowa723
Gilliam230
Sherman230
Wheeler60
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1286550

Reported Deaths: 19553
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles4218817782
San Bernardino991041154
Riverside900891457
San Diego861421040
Orange816531586
Kern42937451
Sacramento39367591
Fresno39324488
Santa Clara36673495
Alameda30980522
San Joaquin26784519
Contra Costa25264261
Stanislaus22876433
Tulare21789314
Ventura21208185
Imperial16507358
Monterey16064124
San Francisco16058161
San Mateo15040170
Sonoma12795160
Merced12427185
Santa Barbara11720138
Kings1155589
Solano1111981
Marin7873129
Placer694172
Madera648290
San Luis Obispo637838
Shasta536552
Yolo506881
Santa Cruz476633
Butte424460
Sutter373319
Napa329818
El Dorado26384
Yuba231011
Lassen22203
San Benito200717
Tehama180026
Mendocino165723
Nevada145510
Tuolumne112811
Glenn99611
Humboldt9939
Lake97221
Colusa7566
Siskiyou7524
Amador74016
Mono5773
Calaveras55322
Del Norte3841
Inyo31416
Plumas2390
Trinity1700
Modoc1620
Mariposa1483
Alpine520
Sierra230
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