It’s dry here in Central Oregon.
So dry in fact, as far the state is concerned our region’s fire season will start earlier than ever this year.
The Oregon Department of Forestry says fire season in certain areas officially begins this weekend.
A fire season hasn’t been declared this early in more than 40 years.
“What we’re seeing right now we typically see, we’re seeing about a month early,” said Oregon Department of Forestry Central Oregon District Public Information Officer Christie Shaw. “This is actually the early declaration of fire season.”
For much of Central Oregon ODF’s fire season starts this Saturday.
Basically, the fire calendar moves forward a month and fire managers are on guard early with last year’s disastrous wildfires fresh in their memory.
“For these conditions right now, each day we are setting daily maximums in those areas,” said Shaw.
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The ODF’s Crook County unit consists of parts of Jefferson, Crook, and Deschutes County; the Dalles unit, which stretches through Hood River and Wasco Counties to the Columbia.
Fire season starts over the weekend for both units.
“I think the entire state of Oregon is in some sort of drought,” said Fire Weather Program Manager for the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center John Saltenberger.
“We’re also seeing not only the entire state of Oregon being in some form of drought, but the areas that have severe and exceptional drought are expanding week by week,” he added. “So drought is here and it is worsening.”
RV campers on the shores of the Haystack Reservoir know campers will have to be extra careful.
“I think this is going to be a very, very bad one,” said camper Rodney Wight.
“Fire is unforgiving … period,” added Jim Williams.
“If we don’t see a change in the weather that is not in the projections I see, we’re going to see increased restrictions pretty quickly,” said Shaw.
For now, those restrictions prohibit smoking and ban the use of certain types of explosives and ammunition.