Wildland fire crews battle blazes, extreme heat

The soaring temperatures and intense heat from the fires put wildland crews at risk.

Posted: Jul 13, 2018 10:21 PM
Updated: Jul 13, 2018 10:31 PM

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- The extreme heat is making it even more dangerous for firefighters to battle wildfires.

The Douglas Forest Protective Association said the intense heat that we’re starting to see here in western Oregon is sucking every last bit of moisture out of things like the dried grass and the brush that grows around it.

It also creates the potential for dangerous fires, like the one off Highway 99 in Roseburg.

Kyle Reed with the DFPA said it burned about four acres of grass and also caused major heat concerns for wildland fire crews.

“The best fire we can have is one that never starts,” Reed said.

And with temperatures reaching the upper 90s over the next several days, Reed said preventing those fires from starting is key.

“Really what happens is between the low humidity and the hot temperatures, it really dries fuels out even more so than it was previously,” Reed said. “So, we’ll see fire conditions dramatically increase during these time periods.”

Right now, Reed said the current conditions are similar to what is typically seen in early August.

Those dried out fuels, mixed with the hot daily temperatures, is a worrying combination for fire crews.

“One of the biggest problems with the heat is heat exhaustion in firefighters,” Reed said. “Because not only is it 95 -- 100 -- degrees outside, but you’ve got the heat from all the flames as well. So we’ve had fires in the past, during previous years during situations like this, where firefighters have started dropping because of heat exhaustion.”

Reed said they’re constantly reminding their crews to hydrate, eat the right foods and get plenty of rest.

But he also asks the public to help them out.

“Locally, probably 75 to 80 percent of our fires are caused by people,” Reed said. “In all those fires, something can be done to keep those from happening. So, it’s important that people follow the fire restrictions that are in place.”

Reed asks that the public stick to those posted fire restrictions to help minimize the chances of a new fire starting and to help keep Oregon green.

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