Chief: We need better fire prep

“It turns out that a fire season 2021 preview is upon us,” said Tom Boyatt, Springfield community services manager, at the Springfield City Club April 15 meeting. “Dry conditions, east winds and hot temperatures, that’s the recipe.”

The rising temperature and wind speed in Lane County is closely monitored by local experts, and smartphone users may have noticed a fire danger warning recently popping up on weather apps.

Moving forward, discussion to reflect on the recent Sweet Creek and Holiday Farm fires may be in order to determine future action should another fire spark, officials said.

Interim Eugene Springfield fire Chief Chris Heppel said the Holiday Farm Fire was driven by high winds similar to the easterly winds speeding through Lane County last week. 

“Are we prepared to respond to another fire or disaster like that? The answer is no,” Heppel said. “Certainly as we go through global warming and other issues our concerns are going to rise. Establishing good defensible spaces and being aware of what’s going on is a big piece for community members and for us, getting on fires quickly. “

While he hopes this past week of high winds and rising temperatures isn’t a prelude for fire season, Heppel said he cannot determine what fire season will look like until October.

“We really don’t know. We know we’re dry, we did get some rain this year, we have better snowpack up on the mountains than in years past, etc, but we don’t know how things are going to shift.”

Lifted Thursday, outdoor burns had been temporarily banned in Lane County to reduce the risk of escape fires due to high winds and dry conditions.  

As for assessing fire risk levels, taking a look at an environment’s fuel load, topography and resource availability for quick response times can help determine needed future preparation for this upcoming fire season.



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