USA – A new online tool, released Wednesday by the Oregon Department of Forestry, allows Oregon residents to track current wildfire risk to their exact location anywhere in the state.
Last year, more than 2,000 wildfires were reported in Oregon, burning more than 700,000 acres. From the massive Chetco Bar fire near the southern coast to the Eagle Creek fire in the Columbia River Gorge, it seemed that fire touched every corner of the state.
But wildfire risk isn’t distributed evenly over the nearly 100,000 square miles that make up the Beaver State and residents in the densely forested interior likely face a greater fire hazard than those in densely urbanized areas like Portland.
The tool, part of the Oregon Explorer website, uses a variety of data to calculate how high that risk is for any given location, Teresa Alcock, an analyst for the state, said in a statement.
“Using the Explorer, homeowners can see where and how likely wildfires are to occur in their area,” Alcock said. “This is based on historical wildfire data, local vegetation and weather.”
The tool offers resources as well. Residents can generate a report specific to their address showing how much defensible space should be cleared around their home, wildfire history for the area and local contacts for more information.
Beyond offering insight and resources to residents, the tool is intended to provide a data-based risk assessment for planners and forest managers as they prepare for wildfires predicted to grow more intense.
“The risk assessment has three major goals: map and assess wildfire risk on all lands in Oregon and Washington, use an interagency approach to foster relationships, and produce a product that would be immediately used by the wildland fire managers, other federal and state programs, private industry and the public,” Rick Stratton, a fire analyst with the U.S. Forest Service, said in a statement. “Oregon Explorer will deliver the risk assessment to a variety of these people and programs.”
You can check out the new tool and generate a report for your home here.