September 8, 2017

This is crazy. When much of an entire state is on fire *cough* climate change *cough*, the last thing the governor should have to think about is whether the federal government can be trusted to reimburse the firefighting costs.

But that's exactly the position Oregon’s Democratic governor is in.

“I talked with the federal authorities two weeks ago, asking for additional federal assistance, I was told point-blank ‘no’,” said Brown.

The U.S. Forest Service has been helping, and Oregon is expecting the arrival of 200 active duty military from Joint Base Lewis-McCord in Washington.

But Gov. Brown argued federal officials should be directing more resources to Oregon, because of the disproportionate degree of fire danger in the state. Brown’s numbers and those from the National Interagency Fire Center tell a similar story: that Oregon accounts for nearly one-third of the scorched acres in the country. Of 1.5 million acres or more burning across the country about a half million acres are in Oregon.

“It’s an extremely critical time for Oregon, and the federal government should be providing us with every level of assistance that they have,” Brown emphasized.

Members of Oregon’s congressional delegation have said they want to include Northwest wildfire funding in a bill to help communities recover from Hurricane Harvey. The federal government typically reimburses Oregon for about 75 percent of wildfire costs, but Gov. Brown said it was “too early to tell,” if that money was secure.

While the Eagle Creek Fire has grabbed lots of attention in the Portland area, it is not Oregon’s largest fire. The Chetco Bar Fire burning in southwestern Oregon is the largest wildfire in the country. It threatened the coastal city of Brookings in late August, but Brown said firefighters are tracking its movement in the direction of Grants Pass.

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