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Elevated Fire Dangers on Oregon, Washington Coast This Week

Published 04/14/21 at 5:25 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Elevated Fire Dangers on Oregon, Washington Coast This Week

(Manzanita, Oregon) – So early in the year it's already cause for caution when it comes to fire dangers in Oregon and Washington, and that even includes the coastlines of both states.

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The National Weather Service (NWS) in Portland issued a special weather statement for the northern half of the Oregon coast and southern Washington coast saying it will be unseasonably dry and warm through this weekend.

“Extra caution is advised with fire, at least through the upcoming weekend,” the NWS said. “Be sure to check with your local fire district before burning, as there may be restrictions in place.”

The extra caution message is for the I-5 Corridor and Willamette Valley towns of Washington and Oregon, as well as the Oregon and Washington coast, starting from Florence up through Westport.

Campfires in coastal forest lands will need more attention, and you should be extra certain your beach bonfires are far from beachgrass. This is always the law on Oregon and Washington beaches, but this week requires more caution.

Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) has reported some 70 fires were burning on the agency’s lands this year. This is three times the average for fires this time of year. 40 of those fires were started by backyard burns that jumped to public lands and all happened before the official start of fire season.

Fire fighters have already responded to numerous brush fires in northwest Oregon.

“An unseasonably dry start to April has left vegetation drier than normal for this time of year along the Oregon and southern Washington coast,” the NWS said. “Breezy offshore flow is resulting in unseasonably warm and dry afternoons, further drying out vegetation across the region.”

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Sunny and Near 70 for Oregon / Washington Coast | Portland near 80 From Seattle, Portland to Roseburg, and from La Push down through Cannon Beach and Gold Beach

The upper half of the Washington coast and southern half of the Oregon coast do not have these warnings, but parts of the inland portions of both states already have issues.

Currently, much of Oregon is experiencing some of the driest air – lowest humidity level – in a long time. The NWS said offshore winds have weakened and taken a more northerly direction for now, keeping things moist along the coastlines this evening. But all that will change Thursday, restarting the dry air conditions that have happened this week and continuing for a couple of days at least.

“Friday afternoon will bring breezier winds than Thursday, bringing an increased threat for fire spread,” the NWS said.

Oregon has released an interagency map showing closures of public lands among Oregon State Parks, U.S. Forest Service and others, some of which are from fire dangers while others are from COVID restrictions or other reasons, see the map.

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Above: NASA photo showing forest fires near southern Oregon coast in 2015

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