Wildfire danger: Governor declares a state of emergency

Wildfire danger: Governor declares a state of emergency
A tanker drops retardant on the Barry Point Fire near Lakeview, Ore. Photo courtesy Fred Way.

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SALEM, Ore. - Gov. John Kitzhaber declared a statewide state of emergency on Thursday due to the imminent threat of wildfire.

"Oregon and the nation are heading into a challenging stretch of fire season,” the governor said in a news release announcing the state of emergency. “As national firefighting resources are constricted, my top priority is to ensure the state is able to effectively contain wildfires to keep the public and our firefighters safe."

Here's the rest of the statement from the governor's office:

In accordance with ORS 401.165, the Governor determined that a threat to life, safety, and property exists with the State of Oregon in a critical fire danger situation. Specifically, the Governor’s declaration authorizes the immediate use of National Guard helicopters to aid in fighting the Barry Point Fire as well as additional crews and resources as needed.

Much of the state is now in extreme fire danger and red flag warnings are predicted to be issued for hot, dry, windy conditions and thunderstorms. Other parts of the country continue to experience large-complex fires and similar fire weather which will limit national firefighting resources. The imminent threat of wildfire exists over a broad area of the State including forests in the Cascades and eastern and southern Oregon.

In fact, six significant fires are actively burning over 130,000 acres in Oregon at this time. More than 1 million acres has burned over the course of six weeks in Oregon.

By declaring a State of Emergency, the Governor ordered the Oregon Military Department and the Oregon Department of Forestry to coordinate the use of personnel and equipment of the State for wildland firefighting in Oregon with National Guard resources. This determination of a fire emergency is statewide and is limited to the use of state resources and personnel for wildland firefighting.