Wildfire season aligns along with Earth, moon, sun

Total solar eclipse happening August 21

Crews put out a grass fire near I-205 and Foster on July 6, 2017. (KOIN)
Crews put out a grass fire near I-205 and Foster on July 6, 2017. (KOIN)

CHAMPOEG, Ore. (KOIN) — The Earth, moon and sun aren’t the only things aligning for the solar eclipse in Oregon on August 21. It’s also a dangerous combination of wildfire season and an extra million people in the state.

Though the winter weather set records for rain and precipitation and all of Oregon was drought-free, there are now some very dry conditions in spots throughout the state, including spots in or near the path of solar eclipse totality.

Complete coverage: Oregon Solar Eclipse

“The path of totality obviously starts at the coast and will travel through Salem, the Willamette valley here and through the capital of central and eastern Oregon,” said Carol Connolly with the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center. “In August, it’s the peak of our fire season. We are going to have dry, hot conditions.”

Most of the wildfires, she said, are caused by people, and so far this year, 70% of the wildfires are human-caused.

“If you pull off to the side of the road to view the eclipse, be aware of what’s underneath your car,” Connolly said. “You can pull over and do it, but don’t do it on dry grass.”

At Champoeg State Park, officials opened up extra spots for eclipse campers — and those sold out right away. That same scenario played out all across Oregon for a few minutes of astronomical amazement.

“Folks just need to be aware that when they have a campfire make sure it’s out. Know the restrictions (such as ) if you can even have them. Don’t leave it unattended ever,” Connolly said.

The August 21 eclipse is the first total eclipse visible in Oregon in 38 years, and will likely be the last in any of our lifetimes.

This graphic explains how the moon will block the sun from the Earth during a solar eclipse (Eclipse.stream.live)
This graphic explains how the moon will block the sun from the Earth during a solar eclipse (Eclipse.stream.live)