PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — With more than three months to go in this year’s fire season, Oregon has already spent $20 million, which has spurred Oregon Senator Ron Wyden to push for hundreds of millions more in national wildfire funding.
Wyden spoke at a briefing in Portland Saturday, in which he offered solutions for how to deal with – and pay for – Oregon’s wildfire crisis.
Wyden said his top priority is to convince lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to approve $615 million for prevention and firefighting efforts.
“I don’t have to tell you these fires are bigger and stronger and more damaging,” said Wyden. He said he expects the bill, which would provide $615 million, to be through the Senate this week.
“Then we’ll all have to go to work on the house,” he said. “Taking off for August recess won’t do.”
Wyden said he wants to focus more on prevention measures.
“Every year prevention money gets shorted, but then as a result we get one of these mega fires,” he said. Then, money is borrowed from the prevention fires to fight the big fires.
“But lack of money for prevention means not enough resources to fight these big fires,” Wyden said.
With forecasts predicting temperatures of 100 degrees in southern Oregon and more dry conditions, the possibility of more fires igniting Monday and Tuesday remains.
At their peak, between 12,000 and 13,000 people from different agencies across the state were working to fight Oregon’s fires.
The biggest wildfire in the country, the 618-square-mile Buzzard Complex fire, is currently burning in Oregon. But, that fire is nearly 95% contained.