Normal Wildfire Season Predicted For Pacific Northwest, Except For Eclipse

May 18, 2017
Originally published on May 18, 2017 7:12 pm

Authorities think this summer is going to be average for wildfire activity.

Despite a cool, wet winter, that still means about 4,000 small and large fires. And while oncoming El Niño ocean conditions may mean a warmer than usual summer, there’s no indication of drought.

But John Saltenberger with the US Fish and Wildlife Service says there is one wild card. The hundreds of thousands of people who’ll be in the Oregon wilderness to watch the solar eclipse on Aug. 21.

"Traditionally we see spikes in the number of human ignitions that come on holiday weekends such as July 4th such as Labor Day. This is going to outstrip all of that," he said.

"It’s unprecedented. At this point, I don’t have a feel for how many extra fire starts we may likely suffer during the eclipse event. But it’s not trivial," said Saltenberger.

Saltenberger’s main concern is that the eclipse coincides with really hot, dry, windy conditions.

About half of all wildfires are started by humans. The rest are sparked by lightning.

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