Monday's wildfire. Photo: ODF

TILLAMOOK FOREST - The wildfire season is here a bit early, with six acres burning on private forestland in the Tillamook Forest on Monday. 

According to Forest Grove District forester Mike Cafferata with the Oregon Department of Forestry, the fire burned mostly in fresh timber harvest, with some more mature forest burned as well. 

Crews from the Oregon Department of Forestry, Forest Grove Fire & Rescue, and a contract logging crew battled the blaze and successfully contained it, along with assistance from a helicopter from Hillsboro Aviation. 

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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With warm, dry winds and low relative humidity expected on Thursday, much of the Willamette Valley will enter a Fire Weather Watch beginning Thursday afternoon and extending to at least Thursday evening.

The National Weather Service warned that conditions could become dangerous. 

“Conditions may be favorable for rapid fire spread which may threaten life and property. Use extra caution with potential ignition sources, especially in grassy areas. Outdoor burning is not recommended,” the federal agency said in their warning

In an email to forest industry operators in the region, Forest Grove District Forester and other area district foresters offered recommendations to those who are logging in the area. 

“If you have burned in the past several weeks, return to the site and ensure that there is no chance of the piles rekindling and escaping. If you still have burning to do, best to hold off until conditions improve. Ideally, it may be best to wait until next fall after fire season,” the email read.

In an email to the Banks Post & Gales Creek Journal, Cafferata extended that advice to more rank-and-file landowners who might have already done backyard burning. 

“Despite the chilly mornings, fire danger is high. South facing slopes are especially dry, and windy conditions will really hinder firefighting efforts. Tomorrow’s weather is predicted to be the worst we have had this spring. If you are out in the forest, be especially careful. Also, if you have done any burning – backyard burning or otherwise – you should go and check your fire to be sure it is dead out,” he said.