Northeast Oregon Fire season has been ‘Fairly average’

By Jayson Jacoby September 03, 2014 12:26 pm

A large plume of smoke rises over the town of Oakridge as the Deception Complex Fire continues to burn last week. Compared to the rest of the West, the fire season in Northeast Oregon has been about average, according to fire officials. (The Associated Press )
A large plume of smoke rises over the town of Oakridge as the Deception Complex Fire continues to burn last week. Compared to the rest of the West, the fire season in Northeast Oregon has been about average, according to fire officials. (The Associated Press )
For much of the West, the 2014 wildfire season has been a particularly destructive one.

Blazes destroyed dozens of homes in Washington and California.

In Oregon, fires menaced neighborhoods near Bend, The Dalles and Ashland.

Meanwhile in Northeastern Oregon, with the exception of an August fire that threatened residents in Imnaha in eastern Wallowa County, the fire season has been comparatively tranquil.

“I would say it has been fairly average,” said Bret Ruby, fire staff officer for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. “There was a lot of activity over a fairly short period, and then the rains came.”

Ruby’s colleague at the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Baker City office, Steve Meyer, agrees with that assessment.

“We were just fortunate this year, so far, that most of the lightning has come with moisture,” said Meyer, protection supervisor for ODF’s Baker District.

Statistics bolster Ruby’s and Meyer’s anecdotal 
descriptions.

Through Tuesday there have been 98 fires on the Wallowa-Whitman this year, 91 of those ignited by 
lightning.

The yearly average for the Wallowa-Whitman, dating to 1971, is 139 total fires. Over the past decade, the annual average is 105 fires.

 
For the complete story, see Wednesday's edition of The Observer.