OREGON -- Across Oregon, nearly half a million acres have already burned, as wildfire season came much sooner than crews expected this year.
In a press conference Tuesday, Gov. Kate Brown and several other state leaders addressed the response to the 2021 season, warning the community that it is crucial for everyone to do their part.
State leaders say there are nine large fires burning in Oregon with more than 5,000 firefighters currently mobilized.
“It’s shaping up to be another difficult wildfire season,” Brown said.
The Bootleg Fire is the nation’s largest, sitting at nearly 390,000 acres in Klamath County with 30% containment. This is the fourth largest fire to burn in Oregon since 1900.
Andrew Phelps, who works within Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management, said it can seem overwhelming.
“We’ve been through a lot this year," Phelps said. "Even as we recover from last year’s wildfires, it’s important to remember there are things we all can do in our communities to be prepared. There are things that not only we can do, but that we need to do to ensure we’re ready for what’s next.”
According to officials, there are many steps you can take:
Doug Grafe, Chief of Fire Protection within the Oregon Department of Forestry, also spoke at the press conference. He said the wind, heat and dry conditions have fire crews consistently on their toes.
“The drought conditions across Oregon are really driving the fire potential,” Grafe said. “When we looked at the map this morning, 90% of the state is either in exceptional, extreme or severe drought conditions.”
Firefighters are not only facing fatigue and injuries but are also struggling with their own mental health, according to officials.
Leaders say 85 National Guard members are currently providing support but strong federal partners are needed.
Brown was joined by the Oregon Department of Forestry, the office of the Oregon State Fire Marshal, the Oregon Military Department, Oregon Emergency Management and the Oregon Health Authority.
She says 80% of fires in Oregon are human-caused.
More information can be found HERE.
Watch the full press conference below, or click here.