Wildfire Updates and Comparisons for Pacific Northwest

The wildfire season started early in 2021 for the Pacific Northwest. While its duration has been predicted to be longer than last year’s, so far we have had markedly fewer large fires in the region. The problem with heavy smoke seemed to be worse last year as well. 

The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center (NIACC) report shows 1,451,367 acres burned across Oregon and Washington as of Sept. 13. Last year’s number of fire-consumed acres was greater by one quarter.  

According to Carol Connoly of the NIACC, “Currently we have 6,219 firefighters and support personnel on 15 active large fires. 3,996 in Oregon and 2,223 in Washington,” while last year there were 8,522 firefighters and support personnel working on 28 active large wildfires, 6,071 in Oregon and 2,451 in Washington. 

A short note contradicting the quoted trend appeared on Aug. 17 on KBND 100.1. According to their article, “The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center is reporting over one-million charred acres in the two state’s this year. By contrast, over 52-thousand acres were destroyed in 2020. In that time span, the number of wildfires also doubled, with 37 fires last year and 77 this year, through August 15. Included in that total is the Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon, which burned more than 413-thousand acres, making it the largest wildfire in the country before final containment early this week.” 

Most of Oregon has not seen rain for the past 90 days, but according to the National Weather Service, rain is forecasted for later this week.  

“The Northwest has been dry. We haven’t had a lot of lightning, but the fuels have been very receptive to lightning starts. And they cause us a lot of problems,” said Ed Hiatt, Interagency Fire Staff Officer for Northwest Oregon.   

Currently, the large wildfire closest to Corvallis is the Bull Complex, located about 12 miles northeast of Detroit, OR. As of the morning of Sept. 13, it has burned 19, 950 acres and is 14% contained. Bruler wildfire, the closest of all fires, located 9 miles south of Detroit Lake, spans 195 acres and has been 75% contained. 

NIACC currently reports six major wildfires in Oregon. For more information on wildfire updates in Oregon and Washington, visit https://nwccinfo.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_23.html.  

By Joanna Rosińska