Governor declares statewide emergency in face of wildfire risks

SALEM – Gov. Kate Brown has declared a state of emergency for the entire state “due to the imminent and ongoing threat of wildfire.”

Brown authorized the declaration Saturday night as a wildfire threatened homes in southern Oregon near the community of Galice.

The declaration clears state agencies to suspend rules that might impede a fire response and also readies the Oregon National Guard to “deploy and redeploy firefighting resources as needed.”

Much of the state is in drought condition and the National Weather Service has forecast higher-than-normal temperatures for much of the state through mid-September.

“Much of the state continues to experience high temperatures, wind, storms with dry lightning and persistent drought,” Brown said in her executive order declaring the emergency.

“The extended climate forecast in Oregon calls for continued warm and dry conditions, resulting in imminent threat of fire over a broad area of the state,” according to the order. “This threat is not likely to recede in the near future.”

Les Zaitz is editor and CEO of Salem Reporter. He co-founded the news organization in 2018. He has been a journalist in Oregon for nearly 50 years in both daily and community newspapers and digital news services. He is nationally recognized for his commitment to local journalism. He also is editor and publisher of the Malheur Enterprise in Vale, Oregon.