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Wildfire danger in Oregon rises amid hot, dry conditions
Contact: Rod Nichols, 503-945-7425
Rising temperatures and falling humidity have elevated wildfire danger across Oregon. Firefighters battling existing blazes are experiencing the worsening conditions first-hand as they cope with soaring flame lengths and rapid fire spread. These weather-induced flare-ups test fire lines and require extra firefighting resources.
Lightning is predicted to occur on Tuesday and Wednesday, raising the specter of multiple fire starts in the forest. Whenever thunderstorms bearing little or no rain sweep over the region during a hot, dry period, scores of new fires are likely to be left in their wake. Firefighters must race against time to suppress these lightning starts, which often burn in remote forested areas with difficult access.
While lightning is an ever-present threat, people cause about two-thirds of the wildfires in a typical year. In recent weeks federal, state and local fire agencies have tightened fire safety rules in the forest. Most areas currently prohibit campfires, driving/riding motorized vehicles off of major roadways, and smoking outside of a closed vehicle. Other restrictions are in place as well.
"We ask the public to be very careful and cautious when they are in the woods or the wildland-urban interface," Oregon Department of Forestry's (ODF) Travis Medema said. "Under these conditions fires can explode in minutes."
The deputy chief of ODF's Protection Division also urged recreationists who see a fire to report it immediately by calling 911.
"Early detection can help us get firefighting resources on a fire quickly while it is still small," he said.
Before traveling to the forest, recreationists are encouraged to contact the appropriate land management agency to learn the current fire restrictions. The rules are subject to change on short notice during this period of high fire danger. 
Many private forest landowners have closed their lands to the public due to the volatile conditions. Current access status of corporate forestlands can be found at: www.oregon.gov/ODF/FIRE/corporate_closure.shtml.