Escaped burn piles, lightning strikes ignite wildfires as Oregon firefighters ramp up

By Zach Urness
The Salem Statesman Journal
May 16, 2023
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

OREGON — Small wildfires have popped up across western Oregon over the past few days as hot temperatures and windy conditions put firefighters on high alert. At least three significant fires ignited when slash or burn piles escaped in the Willamette Valley area and required a response from the Oregon Department of Forestry. Far more smaller-scale fires from burn piles were handled by local firefighters, officials said. At least one lightning-ignited fire from Monday night’s thunderstorm was doused south of Eugene. The trend is expected to continue with at least four more days above 80 degrees forecast. “Our firefighters are on high alert,” ODF fire spokeswoman Jessica Prakke said. “It’s our first warm and dry stretch and people are wanting to burn debris or get out and camp. Even though it’s still May, when it turns dry like this fires can start and people need to be cautious and prepared.”

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