Unheard of Winter Weather: Fire Warning for Oregon Coast Range, Two Wildfires
(Manzanita, Oregon) – It's crazy but it's true: conditions are so dry on this winter day there is a red flag warning for the Oregon coast range mountain passes and much of the area west of Portland. Not only is there extreme fire danger in these areas, but there are actually two wildfires burning in the hills above Arch Cape a major state park on the north Oregon coast.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a red flag warning for the Oregon coast range from near Florence up into the southern Washington coast range. The warning is in effect until 10 p.m. tonight (Friday), but this does not affect the areas directly along the beaches.
Winds have been strong in areas along the Gorge, resulting in wildfire warnings in that area. For the Oregon coast range, humidity is as low as 25 percent until later tonight.
The NWS said the impacts of all this are unusually dry conditions coupled with gusty winds that will produce conditions favorable to wildfires that could burn out of control.
The agency said do not burn anything and report any smoke you see. Since the red flag warning expires later tonight, this will not affect visitors who wish to make beach bonfires over the weekend.
On the central Oregon coast, Lincoln County Fire Defense Board Chief Will Ewing also sent out warnings.
“Due to unseasonably dry and windy conditions the Lincoln county fire defense board is asking Lincoln county residents to use restraint this weekend regarding open burning,” Ewing said. “The current situation projects extreme fire behavior that could be effected by east wind activity. If possible postpone burning until safer conditions return to Lincoln County. If you do burn please use extra caution and stay in attendance of the burn through the entire process, and make sure to extinguish the fire when done. If any problems occur please call 911 immediately. Remember if you do burn you are responsible for the outcome.”
Two wildfires are still burning on the north Oregon coast as of early Friday evening. Both are burning near Arch Cape, just south of Cannon Beach and have a total size of 125 acres.
One was first reported around 10 a.m. on private timberland. Another fire nearby – theorized to have sparked by the first blaze – started shortly after. The second fire had grown in size by later in the afternoon, bringing in helicopters and firefighters.
Officials said there is absolutely no danger to Arch Cape or the forests of Oswald West State Park, but some residents may encounter smoky conditions.
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