Weekend fires signal early Ore. wildfire season

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by Evan Sernoffsky, kgw.com staff

NWCN.com

Posted on May 6, 2013 at 1:12 PM

Updated Monday, May 6 at 7:03 PM

SHERIDAN, Ore. – Crews battled dozens of wildfires across Oregon over the weekend.

The Oregon Department of Forestry said Monday people burning debris over the weekend were responsible for at least 36 of the 65 wildfires reported.

In Yamhill County on Monday afternoon, a burn pile on a farm unexpectedly caught fire that sent smoke billowing into sky. Crews were able to soon get that under control.

"It is so unseasonable dry right now, and with the winds potentially coming up, we really got to stomp on this or … it will get really bad, really quick. And we don't want that at all," Alan Robbins with Yamhill Fire said.

A 40-acre brush fire Saturday in Sheridan was one of a handful of seasonal wildfires that signal the early start to fire season in Oregon.

In central Oregon, around 40 homes near La Pine were forced to evacuate after two small wildfires broke out and spread quickly due to high winds and dry conditions.

More: Ore. wild fire threat eases, evacuees return home

All three fires were extinguished, but they mark what may be a long stretch of burning this summer in Oregon.

The period of highest fire danger will likely begin in mid-June, according to the Northwest Fire Coordination center. Normally, fire danger reaches its peak in early July.

Oregon experienced the driest January through April on record. Things are expected to stay dry with the National Weather Service predicting below-normal rainfall through July.

Crews have yet to determine the cause of Saturday’s fire in Sheridan, but according to firefighters, the leading causes of wildfires are human activity and lightning.

Officials from the Sheridan Fire District urge those who head outside during the spring and summer to be aware of the fire conditions and to use caution when making fires.

KGW Reporter Kyle Iboshi contributed to this report

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