The 2020 wildfire season was nothing short of brutal: Terrible air quality sent pandemic-strained Portlanders scuttling indoors, hundreds of Oregonians lost homes and property, and some community members even lost loved ones.
And it doesn’t seem all that terribly long ago that the sky looked like it belonged to another planet. But unfortunately, another wildfire season—already forecasted with plenty of gloom—is upon us. Spoiler alert: Things aren’t looking great. (For extra proof, look no further than this weekend’s Joseph Canyon Fire in northeastern Oregon, which grew to 4,000 acres over the weekend before firefighters got the upper hand with an assist from cooler weather.)
As spring turns in earnest to summer, the drought intensity is only projected to increase in northwest Oregon. Doug Grafe, the chief of fire protection for the Oregon Department of Forestry, told reporters last week that he’s especially worried that significant lightning strikes will spark big fires, given drought conditions.
Already this year, 182 people in Klamath County had to leave their homes after a nearby fire threatened to burn out of control, says state Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple.
State fire officials say we all need to be prepared for what’s to come; their off-season efforts have included increasing the number of planes available to put out fires from above, and training more seasonal firefighters.
So how can you prepare to be a wildfire survivor? Here are recommendations from the Oregon Office of Emergency Management:
● Prepare an emergency pack of important documents and items (such as prescriptions, documentation, and non-perishable food) to grab if you need to evacuate.
● Have a plan for you and your family as to when and where you will evacuate.
● Practice this plan before an emergency occurs.
● Stay informed via signing up for local alerts and following trusted media.