LA GRANDE — Barring a major flare-up in the next couple of weeks, Oregon appears it is on the way to escaping the 2020 fire season in relatively decent shape, especially when compared to some of the ravaging fire seasons of the recent past.
According to inciweb.nwcg.gov, which tracks the progress of fires in the U.S., Oregon has recorded a little less than 110,000 acres burned in fires on its website, and the bulk of that is coming from just three blazes — the Indian Creek, Lionshead and White River fires.
The season, to this point, appears to be on a path similar to the 2019 season. An Oregonian/OregonLive report on last year’s season said that between Oregon and Washington, just more than 200,000 acres burned. The fires reported on Inciweb through Monday, Sept. 7, are at a combined total of about 207,000 acres in the two states.
Inciweb’s site does not necessarily include, at least in Oregon, hundreds of small fires that are quickly contained. For example, through Monday, the Oregon Department of Forestry website reported 749 fires, totaling just less than 17,000 acres — an average of about 22 acres per fire. Conversely, Inciweb includes only 16 fires in Oregon on its site at an average of about 6,741 acres apiece.
But regardless, the numbers don’t match 2017 or 2018, when, according to The Oregonian’s article, fires burn well more than 1 million acres between Oregon and Washington both years, including 1.3 million in 2018.
The three biggest fires in the state have accounted for more than 80,000 acres of damage. The Indian Creek fire near Juntura is larger than the next four biggest fires combined and has scorched at least 48,128 acres. Lionshead is responsible for 18,615 acres burning, and White River has cooked 17,507 acres.
Those are the only three Oregon blazes, according to the Inciweb data, that are larger than 5,000 acres. A trio of fires have burned between 4,000 and 5,000 acres — the P-515 Fire (4,609 acres), Green Ridge Fire (4,338 acres) and the Frog Fire (4,020 acres). Laurel, Neals and Crane fires all burned between 1,000 and 3,000 acres.
The Meacham Complex is the largest reported fire in Northeast Oregon to date, and according to Inciweb burned 268 acres. It, however, has been fully contained.
The Lionshead Fire, a lightning-started blaze that began Aug. 16, is burning in the Warm Springs Reservation in central Oregon and is 31% contained. The White River Fire, burning north of the Warm Springs Reservation, is 55% contained.
Inciweb’s most recent report on the Indian Creek Fire is that it was 75% contained.
Washington’s largest fire, the Evans Canyon blaze, has burned almost 76,000 acres and is 60% contained.