Fire is a natural part of Oregon’s forest ecosystems, but what we’re experiencing now is not normal. Over the past 10 years, the total number of wildfires in Oregon has remained relatively steady, but the total acres burned has increased dramatically. Factors contributing to this explosion of “megafires” include overgrown forests and the effects of climate change, which have led to extreme weather, drought and insect infestations that weaken and kill trees, making forests more prone to fire damage.
According to fire experts, the 2020 Labor Day Fires were a disaster waiting to happen, part of a larger trend across the West toward longer, more intense fire seasons that risk the lives and threaten the property of an increasing number of Oregonians who live near forests and other wildlands in what’s known as the “wildland-urban interface.”
The good news is there are many actions homeowners and landowners can take to make their homes and forestland more fire resilient.