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Firefighters Hope For a Cool, Lightning-Free Weekend

August 7, 2015

Northwest forests are extremely dry, but so far the wildfires haven't been as bad as in 2014. Fire officials count 79 large fires at this point a year ago. This season, there have been 65 fires of at least 100 acres.  

"Even more telling, last year at this date, we'd burned 758,000 acres in Oregon and Washington," said Tom Knappenberger, spokesperson for the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center. "And this year, we're at 237,000, even though the conditions are a lot more volatile out there."  

Knappenberger said there have been fewer lightning strikes, and recently, milder weather.  

Officials are optimistic that they could make progress on the region's big wildfires, thanks to mild weather in the forecast.

Oregon's largest fire, the Stouts Creek fire in Douglas County, has burned more than 18,000 acres. Washington has the Wolverine Fire, which has scorched more than 25,000 acres.

Knappenberger said those are burning in tough terrain, and will be hard to extinguish.  

"The big fires that are going to be with us for a while are the Stouts Creek Fire down in Kalmiopsis area down in southwestern Oregon, and the Wolverine fire up there on Lake Chelan," said Knappenberger. "That's in tough country, so they're just going to burn for a while. We'll see, hopefully the weather will be cooler and damper this weekend, and we'll get some of these wrapped up, and make some progress on the tougher ones."

Responders are tracking 14 major wildfires in Oregon and Washington. The Lime Hill fire started on Wednesday in eastern Oregon, and has already grown to 4,500 acres. More than 200 firefighters are battling the Highway 8 Fire, not far from the small Columbia River town of Roosevelt, Washington. 

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Smoke cloud rises above the Stouts Creek Wildfire burning in Southern Oregon.

Douglas Fire Protective Association