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Prineville — Recent thunderstorm activity has increased fire starts in Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) Central Oregon District, which includes lands in the Columbia River Gorge. While these storms have brought with them isolated precipitation and increased humidity it is not enough to mitigate the record dry fuel conditions across the area, according to an ODF press release.

Kiel Nairns, Acting Unit Forester for The Dalles Unit, cautions landowners and the public, not to get complacent with the recent precipitation. “The moisture from these thunderstorms is only going to dampen fuels for a few hours, and then we’ll be back to the same extreme fuel conditions.”

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Wasco County has declared a “local state of emergency” in response to extreme heat — the highest temperature ever reported in Oregon, 118 degrees, was reported in the county Tuesday — and have banned firework use county-wide through July 14.

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Firefighters responded to three fires Friday morning, June 25, 2021, burning adjacent to Interstate 84 near Rowena, and while working to put these fires out two additional starts were discovered along the freeway.