Wildfires have increased in intensity and severity in the past decade, threatening Oregon’s communities, culture, and economy.
“Every single fire season since I became governor has been a historic fire season,” says Governor Kate Brown. “Each season we’ve seen unprecedented damage to our homes, livelihoods, and Oregon’s natural environment.”
The 2019 Fire Season has not officially began, yet we are already seeing increased fire through the state.
As May marks Wildfire Awareness Month — and with predictions for yet another challenging fire season this year — here are five things you should know to keep yourself, and our state’s beloved forests, safe.
- We all have a role to play in preventing wildfires and protecting our communities.
- Prevention can begin at home. The “Defensible Space” is your property’s front line defense against wildfires. Protect it by removing brush and trimming branches that hang near your home.
- Wildfires can come without warning, and move quickly. Prepare now in case you have to leave your home. Register for emergency notification systems in your community and make a plan where your family will go and how you will stay in contact, if evacuated.
- Never underestimate the importance of campfire safety: always check if the campground or park allows outdoor fires before you strike a match. If permitted, make sure you’re building your campfire properly and that you have water or an extinguisher on hand. Before you leave, ensure the campfire is dead out — if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.
- Yard clean-up tools can actually start a wildfire if not handled properly. The best time of day to use gas-powered equipment is early morning, when the humidity is higher and temps are lower.
When it comes to preventing wildfires, there’s a lot at stake – lives, personal property, and the many values provided by Oregon’s forests and rangelands.
During the 2018 wildfire season, Oregonians were responsible for starting 1,330 wildfires that consumed over 329,000 acres. Let’s commit to educating ourselves on how we can, together, do better this year.