Sisters moves into wildfire season


Last updated 4/2/2024 at 11:48am

Photo by Jim Cornelius

Nathan Garibay, Deschutes County Emergency Services manager, spoke to a group of citizens at a wildfire preparedness event on March 20.

Sisters' taste of warm temperatures and bright sunshine earlier this month heralded spring, and a hint of summer. It's a welcome tease - and also a reminder that we're headed into wildfire season.

Local officials met informally with a group of Sisters area citizens on Wednesday, March 20, at Sisters Fire Hall, to talk about wildfire preparedness.

According to Andrew Myhra of the Sisters Ranger District, it's a little early to predict what kind of wildfire season we're facing. Snow and rainfall have eased drought conditions in Central Oregon, and Myhra noted that the region is at 110 percent of its "normal" snowpack.

"The thing to keep an eye on is how fast that comes off," Myhra said. The quicker and earlier the snowpack melts off, the earlier potential fire fuels like grasses start to cure.

Weather indicators are not strong or clear yet, but early indications for April, May, and June point to likely above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation.

Myhra noted that the Sisters Ranger District is planning a series of prescribed burns in partnership with private landowners that will tie in fuels reduction in Glaze Meadow east of Black Butte Ranch with the broader SAFR (Sisters Area Fuels Reduction Project). Local residents should be aware that there will be smoke from prescribed burning later in the spring.

Local residents are encouraged to take home-hardening and the creation of defensible space seriously. Replacing flammable home materials with fire resistant materials, and clearing brush and other flammable vegetation from around the home makes a significant difference in a home's survivability in a wildfire. City of Sisters Principal Planner Matthew Martin noted that the City is working on code updates that would require higher standards for homes in vulnerable areas of town.

Deschutes County Emergency Services Manager Nathan Garibay urged residents to be prepared for evacuation; know the routes out of your neighborhood, and have essential items prepared so you don't have to put together a "go bag" at the last minute.

He also urged the attendees to sign up for Deschutes Alerts, which sends out phone messages when there is an incident in the area that may require action. In the event of an emergency, Deschutes County officials can identify an affected area and send a message that describes the situation and recommend protective actions people should take. Deschutes Alerts will automatically call all land-line and opt-in telephone numbers within that geographic area and deliver the recorded message.

"If you do nothing tonight but go home and sign up for alerts, you've just made yourself a little safer," he said.

Sign up for Deschutes Alerts at

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

Author photo

Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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