Portland’s Forest Park Wildfire Cause Revealed by Officials

by Emily Morgan

A deadly wildfire broke out after someone carelessly discarded their lit cigarette in the woods of Portland’s Forest Park.

According to Portland Fire and Rescue, shortly after the blaze began, a bystander called 911 to report the fire. Soon after making the call, local firefighters responded to the scene and extinguished the flames.

“We’re all very lucky that this was in the middle of the afternoon, when someone was walking nearby and called 9-1-1, and not in the middle of the night, when the fire may have spread rapidly,” the fire department said.

Near forest park in Oregon, weather forecasters issued an excessive heat warning for parts of the state and Washington state, with temperatures hitting the 90s in Seattle and up to 110 F in eastern parts of Oregon and Washington.

Over 600 miles south of Portland, another deadly wildfire rages. As we’ve covered, California is currently battling the Oak Fire, which continues to blaze across the region, even destroying parts of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, including Yosemite national park.

While there are multiple reasons for the flames, in the past several weeks, the West coast region has seen unprecedented high temps and scorching, dry conditions that make the area ripe for wildfires.

Forest Park fire extinguished as California’s Oak Fire continues to rages

Now, firefighters in California are combating the state’s largest wildfire of 2022. The Oak Fire has forced thousands of residents to evacuate their homes as it continues to burn through the area. As a result, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has now issued a state of emergency.

According to scientists, a bone-dry climate paired with blistering temps allowed the Oak Fire to spread rapidly from the moment it ignited.

Now, the wildfire has spread to more than 15,000 acres within 48 hours after it sparked in Mariposa County, destroying everything in its path.

After the weekend, the Oak fire started slowing down, but it had burned through 18,000 acres by Tuesday afternoon.

Marshall Burke, an associate professor of Earth system science at Stanford University, revealed how the ferocious fire moved so swiftly.

“A heat wave that brought triple-digit temperatures for multiple days in succession combined with extremely low humidity contributed to extremely dry fuels, consisting of dead leaves and trees, that accumulated on the ground and allowed the Oak Fire to advance,” she said.

She continued: “Right as [the Oak Fire] started, there was a period of very, very low relative humidity levels in California,” Burke said. “And I think that really contributed to drying out fuels and making this just a combustible scenario in which fires are gonna spread quickly.”

Burke added that when the fire started, it “grew in all directions” and, unusually, without the help of high winds.

Additionally, the craggy landscape is making it difficult for the firefighters to create fire breaks, Kristina Dahl, a senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in an interview.

While fires tend to grow uphill, this Oak Fire spread in both directions, making it harder to track and contain, Dahl said.