May 11, 2023 - News

As temperatures rise, Oregon's wildfire season looms

The Riverside Fire in 2020. Photo: Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Thanks to the ample rain we've received this spring, wildfire season in some parts of Oregon may be delayed until later in the year. But officials are still urging residents to have an evacuation plan, no matter where you live.

Why it matters: As wildfires become more common in our region, state lawmakers are taking action in the form of legislation and renewed infrastructure to avoid the level of property loss and devastation seen in recent years.

Driving the news: This week, Gov. Tina Kotek signed Senate Bill 82 into law, which prevents insurance companies from raising premiums or denying, renewing or canceling policies for homeowners based on wildfire risk maps.

  • The law also allows wildfire survivors up to three years to rebuild their homes without the governor having to declare a state of emergency for extra rebuilding time.

What they're saying: "Be sure you have an evacuation plan, have a go-kit, have a plan if there's smoke in your community. And above all, do everything you can, wherever you are, to prevent fires from starting in the first place," Kotek said at a press briefing on Tuesday.

Context: Following an especially destructive wildfire season in 2020, legislators passed a wildfire mitigation bill that increased the number of Oregon Fire Service firefighters to a total of 11,000 and solidified building standards for dwellings with significant wildfire risk.

Meanwhile, as parts of Oregon expect record-breaking temperatures this weekend, Mike Shaw, the state's acting division chief of fire protection, said wet ground from spring rain can dry up quickly and become fire-prone fast.

Of note: The Oregon Fire Service plans to continue its use of smoke detection cameras and unmanned aircraft to spot wildfires before firefighters can get boots on the ground.

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