Eclipse Gives Oregon Firefighters A Helpful Break

Aug 22, 2017

Among the countless millions of people who viewed yesterday’s solar eclipse, were firefighters across the Pacific Northwest. Wildfire suppression efforts in Oregon were actually helped by the event. 

Nearly 1,800 personnel are battling blazes such as the 98,000 acre Chetco Bar Fire in southwestern Oregon, and the Whitewater and Little Devil Fires in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness area east of Detroit, Oregon, which have collectively burned roughly 8,600 acres.

Dan O’Connor of the U.S. Forest Service said crews got a reprieve Monday morning, when the moon and sun crossed paths. 

"We were reading like 10 to 20 degrees drop," O'Connor said.  "The humidity rose quite a bit during the eclipse.  Anywhere from like 10 to 30 percent, so that really quieted down the fire activity, almost as if it was nighttime. 

Whitewater Fire personnel take an eclipse break during Monday's solar eclipse.

"Kinda slowed down the fire activity for the rest of the day, it never really got into the normal warming pattern we would’ve had,” he said.  

But temperatures are expected to climb through the weekend now, and O’Connor said that may prompt red flag warnings.  Neither the Chetco Bar nor Whitewater Fires are contained at this time.

Copyright 2017, KLCC