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Portland General Electric sent email warnings to customers near Mt. Hood on Sunday warning them their power could be turned off Monday and Tuesday to prevent the risk of fire during strong winds.
The National Weather Service has a High Wind Warning in effect from 5 p.m. Monday through 1 p.m. Tuesday. Wind gusts could reach 65 mph. The area affected includes portions of southwest Washington, the Columbia River Gorge to the northern Coast and the western side of the Cascades from Mt. St. Helens to Sweet Home.
Emergency Alert messages were also sent on cell phones to people in the areas where power might need to be turned off.
With a Red Flag Warning in the forecast, state-managed forests in northwest Oregon will be in Extreme Fire Danger as of Monday morning. Campers are encouraged to leave during that time, and visitors should consider delaying their trip until fire danger moderates. Strong winds, high temperatures and dry conditions are predicted early in the week.
Starting Monday, visitors to state-managed forests in northwest Oregon can expect more public use restrictions, such as a ban on off-highway vehicle use, limited or no campfire opportunities, and more forest roads closed to vehicle traffic. This includes the Tillamook, Clatsop and Santiam state forests as well as smaller tracts of state forestland in Polk, Lincoln, Benton, and Columbia counties. Restrictions specific to a particular area can be found on the ODF website at https://www.oregon.gov/odf/fire/pages/restrictions.aspx.
The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for northwest Oregon and southwest Washington starting 11 a.m. Monday through 8 p.m. Wednesday, indicating critical fire conditions. The NWS is predicting a strong east wind event starting Monday and continuing through at least Tuesday night. East winds and dry conditions in late summer historically have resulted in some of northwest Oregon’s largest wildfires. If possible, the Oregon Department of Forestry recommends that visitors delay their trip to state forests until these conditions subside, likely later in the week.
Precautions such as these can prevent most wildfires:
- Check current fire restrictions for the area before visiting: Restrictions on activities such as building campfires and riding off-highway vehicles are often in place in cases of extreme fire danger.
- Check your vehicle for dragging tow chains that can send sparks into roadside vegetation.
- Don’t park or idle on dry grass or brush – the hot exhaust system can set it smoldering in seconds.
- Smoke only in an enclosed vehicle. Properly dispose of cigarette butts.
- If you see smoke, call 911.
- Always have fire extinguishing tools on hand.