One concern along eclipse path: Wildfires

Path of totality stretches across a band of Oregon on August 21

Approximately 300 acres were burning near Sunriver, Oregon in August 2016. (Central Oregon Fire)
Approximately 300 acres were burning near Sunriver, Oregon in August 2016. (Central Oregon Fire)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — One of the most highly anticipated events of Summer 2017 in Oregon is the total eclipse of the sun on August 21. Campsites and hotels are booked to capacity along the path of totality.

That path stretches across a lot of forestland during the hot summer’s peak time for wildfires.

“With that many people potentially gathering on our public lands it could leave a significant mark,” said Traci Weaver with the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forestry Service. “We are asking people to follow the ‘leave no trace standards,’ to pack it in and pack it out.”

Weaver suggested eclipse watchers be very careful using any fire-starting device and to make sure campfires are completely extinguished. And she suggested you know what resources are there once you get to your spot.

The path of totality for the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017 (Courtesy: NationalEclipse.com)
The path of totality for the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017 (Courtesy: NationalEclipse.com)

“There isn’t a gas station for miles and miles, there isn’t water for miles and miles, so know what is around and be prepared.”

Both the Forest Service and the BLM want everyone to be on their best behavior. But they’re also providing extra knowledge for people.

TVF&R extended a burn ban to all areas it serves in Washington, Multnomah, Clackamas and Yamhill Counties in 2016. (TVF&R)

“One of the things that we are trying to do here in Oregon is to help prepare for all the visitors we are going to have by adding extra fire education out there for those people who are viewing the eclipse,” said Lauren Maloney, a fire mitigation and education specialist with the BLM. “People might not know when they pull over and park on dry grass they can spark a wildfire.”

Both Maloney and Weaver want people to be “extra aware” and to prepare for “different scenarios that could happen.”

An extra layer of concern is there will be a lot of people in forestland during the eclipse. That means it may take extra time for firefighters to get to any wildfire that flare up.

“You can’t expect to get from Point A to Point B on a normal timeline if you’re in the path of totality, that prime area for viewing the eclipse. It will take extra time,” Maloney said. “If there are emergencies, if people are injured or wildfire events, emergency vehicles are going to need access. People need to be aware and pay attention to emergency vehicles and pull over, not on dry grass, and let emergency vehicles get through.”