A year ago thunderstorms ignited more than 100 wildfires in Oregon

map fires oregon california
This natural-color satellite image was collected on July 18, 2018. Actively burning areas are outlined in red. NASA image courtesy NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Earth Science Data and Information System (ESDIS) project.

About this time last year on July 15 a lightning storm swept across Oregon that ignited more than 100 fires according to the U.S. Forest Service.

An article at News10 looks back on what it was like at that time. Below is an excerpt:

…Oregon Department of Forestry called in all resources possible. New fire starts popped up every two minutes for hours, according to [Chris] James, [Detection Center Lead at Oregon Department of Forestry].

[Marcus] Havinear, [a 10-year veteran firefighter with the Oregon Department of Forestry], started his shift early that Sunday morning. Typically firefighters in the thick of fire season will work 12-hour shifts and get replaced by fresh firefighters. This shift lasted 27 hours. Havinear did not leave his post until 11 a.m. the next day.

Inside the dispatch center for ODF, it was a similar story. Normally, five dispatchers rotate through calls, but when fire season hit last year everyone got called in for the agency.

“As you’re getting those calls, you’re trying to allocate your resources as best you can and order more resources as best you can as the calls keep coming in,” Teresa Burkhart, the lead dispatcher for ODF, said.

ODF personnel spotting smoke like James saw 56 different clouds of smoke on their cameras at the exact same time – something James has never seen before.

“92 smokes that we reported over that three day period,” James said. “31 of those were first detection by us.”

Three months later the Klondike fire was still active. During a major run in mid-October it spotted six miles ahead, dropping burning embers between firefighters’ tents in fire camp, forcing a relocation of the incident command post.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

One thought on “A year ago thunderstorms ignited more than 100 wildfires in Oregon”

  1. I’m STILL waiting for SOMEone to name a big campaign fire “The Cat.”
    Come on, gals and guys, let’s see how much effort it can take to put “The Cat” out.
    In such a serious business, at times we desperately need a reason to laugh.


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