Salem, OR) — Governor Kate Brown yesterday declared a state of emergency due to the imminent threat of wildfire across Oregon. On the heels of record-breaking high temperatures, much of the state is in high or extreme fire danger with red flag warnings in effect for hot, dry, windy conditions and dry thunderstorms. With the extended forecast in Oregon calling for unseasonably high temperatures with no rain in the forecast—and with 19 counties already in declared drought emergencies—the threat of wildfire in Oregon is imminent.
“Oregon is still recovering from the devastation of last year’s wildfires, which resulted in nine Oregonians losing their lives and thousands more losing their homes,” said Governor Brown. “With wildfires already sparking this year, it is imperative that we act now to prevent further loss—of life, property, business, and our natural resources.
“I issued this emergency declaration to ensure every resource is made available for firefighting efforts and to the crews striving to protect our state. With fire seasons increasingly starting earlier and lasting longer, it is up to each of us to do our part to prevent wildfires and be prepared for the ones we can’t prevent. I am urging Oregonians to take charge in preventing human-caused fires by being prepared, safe, responsible, and aware.”
Firefighters and first responders face a number of additional complexities this year including active wildfire recovery operations such as hazard tree removal and rebuilding that impact roadways and access points. Extreme heat adds to the already challenging firefighting landscape.
Pursuant to ORS 401.165 et seq, Governor Brown determined that a threat to life, safety, and property exists due to the imminent threat of wildfire. The Governor’s declaration authorizes the Oregon Department of Forestry and the Oregon Office of the State Fire Marshal, in coordination with the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, to utilize personnel, equipment, and facilities from other state agencies in order to respond to or mitigate the effects of the wildfire emergency.
The declaration allows state agencies to temporarily suspend any rules that impair the response to wildfires, if needed, and also allows the state to request assistance from other states through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact if necessary. The emergency declaration is focused on helping to ensure that the state is prepared to marshal all available and necessary resources as quickly as possible as wildfires arise during this wildfire season.
When state and national resources are limited, the Oregon National Guard will deploy firefighting resources in accordance with Operations Plan Smokey 2021.