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Disasters and Accidents

Spring Fires In Northwest Burning Hotter, Bigger Than Normal

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Douglas Forest Protective Association
The Peavine Creek Fire near Glendale, Oregon.

 A couple of unseasonably large wildfires in the Northwest are giving crews an early taste of fire season.

Based on the preview, it could be a rough summer.

It’s not strange for fires to start this time of year. But it is strange for those fires to grow to 148 acres. That’s how big the Peavine Creek Fire in southern Oregon got last week before crews contained it.

In northeastern Washington, crews are still working on the Hungry Hill fire. A logging helicopter crash ignited it late last week on the Colville National Forest.

“You know, here on the forest, we’ve had conversations -- especially this weekend -- around the fire line and in fire camp,” said the Forest Service’s Franklin Pemberton. “You know, guys who’ve been on this forest 15, 20, 25 years. … And they certainly don’t remember a fire in May that burned quite this hot.”

Pemberton said the fire has responded to water more like a fire later in the season -- by turning it to steam and continuing to burn.

National forecasters say dry conditions on the ground could fuel an unusually active fire season across much of Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

Pemberton said he told his wife not to make any plans for him in August or September.