Senators Merkley, Wyden speak on preparations ahead of Oregon fire season

PORTLAND, Ore. – Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley say there could be difficult days ahead for Oregonians as officials across the state brace for another wildfire season.

During a news conference on Friday, the senators said they’re prioritizing preventing wildfires this year, in part by making sure federal money that is set aside to fight fires isn’t spent on anything else.

Wyden is also trying to pass a bill that would reduce fire fuel across the state, such as brush and dead trees.

Crews have already responded to more than 300 fires in Oregon this year, and summer is still two weeks away.

“To sum up the situation we’re in: rain is way down, heat is way up, and the snowpack is much lower,” said Merkley. “So we have all the factors that pretty much set the stage for a bad fire season.”

A bad fire season even impacts people who don’t live in areas at risk. Merkley said during last year’s Labor Day fires, he traveled roughly 600 miles around Oregon and was never out of wildfire smoke.