Hot spell heats up Northwest wildfire activity

Aug 7, 2012
Originally published on August 7, 2012 3:32 pm

Prolonged hot and dry weather is amping up wildfire activity across the inland Northwest. At the Northwest Interagency Fire Coordination Center in Portland, spokeswoman Carol Connolly says here in early August we're at a turning point in fire season.

"Typically, we'll see these grass fires in early summer. We're right on target for the kind of crossover. We still see those range and grass fires, but I think we're going to start seeing those timber fires as we continue to get more lightning activity."

That transition is evident in the fire report for Idaho already. Six large new wildfires broke out Monday in the southern and western parts of the state. One was quickly contained, but several of the rest are now burning in alpine pine forests.

The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management are deploying air tankers and helicopters as well as hand crews.

A 4,000 acre fire is burning in grass and light timber north of Chelan, Washington. About 50 homeowners have been told to prepare to evacuate. Well over 400 firefighters are at that scene and have the wildfire about 40 percent contained.

In central Oregon, firefighters are gaining the upper hand on a lightning-sparked blaze south of Lake Billy Chinook that briefly threatened a cluster of summer cabins Monday night.

In far eastern Oregon, another 4000 acre fire is burning in grass and brush three miles south of Vale.

Connolly says lightning sparked the majority of the recent wildfires.

"However, last week we had almost two dozen human caused fires in Oregon and Washington," she says. "Those are very preventable fires."

Connolly says those blazes were mostly caused by escaped camp fires. She urges you to be extra cautious and aware if you're going camping this month.

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