Wildfire taming the beast

Governor Kate Brown invokes the Emergency Conflagration Act on four fires in just 22 days

By Lori Kimbel

To say this summer’s fire season is one for the record books is an understatement. With more than 7 million acres burned across the lower 48 states, fire crews struggle to contain these natural and man-made disasters.
 
Governor Kate Brown invokes the Emergency Conflagration Act in responce to the Stouts Fire on July 31, the Cornet Fire on August 13, the Canyon Creek Complex on August 17, and the Grizzly Bear Complex on August 21.
 
The Governor’s declaration authorizes the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal to mobilize structural firefighters and equipment to assist local resources battling the fires.
 
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As of August 23, 2015 there were 69 large fires burning in the United States, not including Alaska, 38 of those were in Oregon and Washington. This number includes full suppression and resource managed fires, but it does not include the individual fires within complexes.
 
Wildfires in Oregon and Washington remain the nation’s top priority with 25 large fires that have burned a total of 1, 052,388 acres. Oregon and Washington each have 12 large fires, while Idaho tops the list with 16. Oregon’s Canyon Creek Complex was the number one priority fire in the nation on August 19.
 
The national preparedness level stands at 5 on a scale of 1 to 5, which means geographic areas are experiencing major incidents which have the potential to exhaust all agency fire resources. Eighty percent (80%) of Type 1 and Type 2 Incident Management Teams and crews are committed, as well as the majority of other National Resources.
 
For the first time since 2006 the active duty military will hit the fire lines.
 
Brown also activated 375 Oregon National Guard members for wildfire response.
 
In order to ensure sufficient fuel supply to aircraft-supported firefighting efforts, Governor Brown suspended the hours of service rules as they apply to drivers operating trucks hauling aircraft fuel directed to airports and/or aircraft engaged in firefighting operations for ten days.
 
“Prevention is crucial. We need every Oregonian and visitor to be fire-savvy and aware of fire restrictions and common-sense practices,” said Governor Brown.

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