Human-Caused Fires on the Rise in the Pacific Northwest

Release Date: 

Media contact: Jennifer O'Leary Risdal
Jennifer.O'LearyRisdal@usda.gov
www.fs.usda.gov/r6

PORTLAND, Ore., July 28, 2023 — The Pacific Northwest has seen a significant increase in human-caused wildfires compared to the same period last year. Since June 1, there have already been 197 human-caused or undetermined caused fire starts that have impacted National Forest lands in Oregon and Washington. The reasons behind this increase are unknown, but human-caused fires are preventable.

With seasonal lightning storms and gusty winds in the forecast, the risk of lightning-caused fires is also on the rise, further challenging firefighters who are already occupied with suppressing human-caused fire starts.

The ongoing drought in the region exacerbates fire danger. Drought conditions can significantly contribute to the occurrence and severity of wildfires. The combination of dry, hot, and windy weather, along with parched vegetation, creates an environment conducive to the rapid spread of fires.

To illustrate the severity of the drought, a map has been provided below, showing the number of days since the last wetting rain (defined as precipitation of more than 0.10 inches over an entire area) as of July 26. Maps depicting the drought conditions in Oregon and Washington are also included to provide a visual representation of the current situation.

Due to the current fire risk, it is crucial to adhere to Public Use Restrictions. Campfire bans are in effect outside of developed campgrounds in some areas, while fires are entirely prohibited in others.

The Forest Service is reminding the public that human-caused fires are preventable, and we all have a role to play in reducing the risk of wildfires. It is essential to be aware of fire restrictions before visiting National Forests and to take every possible measure to protect our cherished forests and communities from the devastating impacts of wildfires.

Visit the website and/or Facebook page for the National Forests you plan to visit for the very latest information on local fire restrictions.

To learn more about how to prevent human-caused fires, visit Region 6 - Prevention (usda.gov).

For more information about the USDA Forest Service visit https://www.fs.usda.gov.