Forestry Experts Shed Light on ‘Unusual’ Wildfire Activity in Northwest US

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by CESAR MANSO/AFP via Getty Images)

In most regions across the Unites States, wildfire season typically runs from April and May through the end of October. However, despite that Thanksgiving is less than a week away and we are rapidly approaching the end of November, areas across the northwestern regions of the country are still experiencing serious wildfire danger. As crews work to put out blazes currently burning in states including Oregon and Washington, forestry experts have begun to shed light on the “unusual” wildfire activity.

Two major wildfires burning in Oregon include the 98 Delta Fire in Clatsop County east of Gearhart and the Lost Mountain Fire in Tillamook County. Together, these blazes have scorched more than 200 acres across the state. Jason Cox of the OR Department of Forestry said that four homes in Clatsop County are in critical danger from the 98 Delta Fire. He said they are “under ‘go now’ level three evacuations, [although] there are no other evacuations in place at this time.”

Meanwhile, he stated that the Lost Mountain Fire is visible from relatively distant communities across the state. He further shared there are a number of small active blazes that remain ongoing, although their causes are still under investigation. Speaking about the late-season wildfires, he said, “This kind of fire activity in November, in northwest Oregon, is pretty unusual.”

KOIN6, an NBC affiliate, suggests that while cooler, wetter weather conditions typically aid in reducing wildfire danger this time of year, Oregon and Washington alike are experiencing a “dry spell” that has combined with high winds making for ideal wildfire conditions.

Experts Believe a Late Rainy Season is Contributing to Late November Wildfires

In addition to windy, dry weather conditions across the Northwestern Pacific, other experts have suggested that the region’s late start in the rainy season is causing these wildfires to endure outside the usual wildfire season.

In addition to the 200+ acres of land burning in Oregon, Washington firefighters are battling a number of smaller-scale blazes. The news outlet listed several which include the Brix Fire (6 acres), the Chinook Fire (35 acres), and the Footrot Fire (50 acres).

Cox further explained that the region’s rainy season lasted well beyond its usual confines, typically extending from October through March and April. However, this year, the rainy season lasted well into June, meaning the start of wildfire season, typically in May, got off to a late start. That, and September’s usually hot, dry weather conditions are certainly contributing to some of November’s largest wildfires.

In conclusion, Cox said, “It seems like we’ve taken what normally would’ve started in May and ended in September and just shifted that forward a couple of months.”

While the Northwest is experiencing wildfires unusually late in the year, blazes have ignited in diverse regions across the country. Recently, 10 fire departments consisting of 75 firefighters managed to put out a serious blaze that ignited earlier this month in Fairdale, Kentucky.