Firefighting costs

The Oregon Dept. of Forestry's gross large-fire costs in the 2014 fire season were about $75.6 million, and the net costs about $47.6 million.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Warm and Dry Outlook: ODF expresses concerns

April 28, 2015

For more info contact:  
Randall Baley, (541) 883-5681
Klamath Falls - The Oregon Department of Forestry, working with the Chiloquin Agency Lake Rural Fire Department and Klamath County Fire District No. 5, responded to two fires recently, with one about 1.5 acres in size and the second a quarter acre. These fires resulted from escaped debris burns. Fire personnel from each agency and the landowners worked to control the fires on two different afternoons and evenings until both were out.

These are just two of several escaped debris burns fire agencies have been responding to in Northern California and Southern Oregon since the above average warmer weather has returned following a record breaking dry winter the geographic area has experienced.  A debris fire is the burning organic material, such as yard trimmings, tree limbs, needle build-up, or forest litter.  What are some common denominators for these escaped fires? 

One may be the idea that if you lit a debris fire last fall, or even last week, and are not seeing smoke or flames; your debris fire may not be out.  Piles can and have retained burning material through even a cold and very wet winters, even more so thru this very dry winter and spring. 

What can a landowner do to help eliminate this potential problem?  If you burned debris piles last fall or earlier this spring, physically check them.  To physically check a pile, use a shovel or other equipment to dig through the ashes until you hit the soil underneath. Touch the burned fuels. Is there warmth?  Warmth is a sign that burning materials still exist.  Mix the ash and soil until all of the material is cold.  Recheck the pile(s) later.

Another is the lack of clearing all burnable material down to a mineral soil line [at least 2 ft wide] around the debris piles or burn area.

Not appropriately monitoring a burn site from ignition to “dead out” is another denominator.  People should monitor a fire’s activity and be prepared to take control actions as necessary.  Weather conditions can change rapidly.  A calm, controlled fire can be racing across your property onto another’s in a matter of minutes.  Don’t be surprised by sudden changes in weather.  

Check with your local rural fire department for a burn permit.  Permits contain requirements to help you burn safely, such as under what weather conditions you may burn, what equipment and tools are needed to burn, what time of day to burn, and having someone with the fire until it is dead out.

The Department of Forestry-Klamath-Lake District, responded to 27 escaped debris burn fires in the last three years, with over half of those occurring in the middle of spring. Planning and taking preventative measures could have prevented these fires.  Please, help us help you have a fire-safe spring cleanup.

Friday, April 17, 2015

A little smoke now, less later

It’s spring cleaning time for forest landowners. They pile and burn woody debris left after logging. Doing this clean-up now makes the forest safer from wildfires when summer arrives. Warm weather came early this year. As a result, burning of logging slash is ahead of schedule. Strict rules help keep smoke away from communities. Learn more about prescribed forest burning from the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lack of snowpack could mean early Central Oregon fire season


By Dylan J. Darling The Bulletin Mar 20, 2015

A warm winter with light snowfall in the mountains near Bend means wildfire season could come early.

Timber fires do not typically occur in Central Oregon until August, said Ed Keith, Deschutes County forester, but the lack of snow may lead to big blazes earlier. “This year it may be June or July,” he said Wednesday.

Last winter was similar, although with more snow, and a late spring wildfire brought a scare to Bend before Central Oregon’s usual summer fire season. The 6,908-acre Two Bulls Fire started June 7 and prompted the evacuation of nearly 200 homes in and near west Bend. The human-caused blaze, the exact cause of which remains under investigation by the Oregon Department of Forestry, burned mainly through private timberland near Tumalo Reservoir. While fire season last year was busy around the Northwest, few fires affected Bend after the Two Bulls Fire.

Whether fire season comes early this year this year depends on weather this spring, which starts today. Spring begins with a dismal snowpack in Central Oregon.

 The Deschutes/Crooked River Basin snowpack was only 9 percent of normal for this time of year as of Wednesday, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Many of the automated snow sites monitored by the federal agency report no snow for the first time in three decades of recording data. A year ago the basin had 54 percent of the normal snowpack on March 20.

Rain fell in Bend last week, and the National Weather Service forecast calls for springlike weather, with rain expected to fall in Bend tonight and rain and snow possible early next week.

“We are gaining some precipitation now, which will help,” said Rachel Cobb, a Weather Service meteorologist in Pendleton, “but I don’t know if it will be enough to make up for what we didn’t get over the winter.”

Starting next week, Cobb plans to start compiling daily fire weather forecasts Monday through Friday, detailing temperatures, relative humidity and wind patterns — weather factors used by firefighters to determine potential fire behavior.

For now, firefighters chiefly use the forecasts to plan controlled burns, which have already begun in Central Oregon, but later they use them for wildfires. During wildfire season the weather service produces fire weather forecasts seven days a week.

The Oregon Department of Forestry does not have any immediate plans to start staffing for fire season or issue fire restrictions early, but that could change with the weather, said George Ponte, Central Oregon District forester for the Oregon Department of Forestry in Prineville.

The lack of snowfall has left grasses in forests around Central Oregon ready to burn, he said. Snow typically crunches down grasses, lowering the likelihood of the grasses holding a flame once the snow has melted. Without snow, the grasses are taller and warm weather could dry them out.

“Those could go at any time with a spark or a careless match,” Ponte said, noting that most early season wildfires in Central Oregon are caused by people.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Inmate fire crews make their mark in 2014

Each year the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) team up to select and train inmates to dispatch to wildfires. Inmates are selected to serve on supervised 10-person crews, and have to complete the same nationally certified firefighter training course as their civilian counterparts. They learn the fundamentals of wildfire behavior, firefighting techniques, communication, and safety.

Deployment of DOC fire crews this year began in January and continued through October. During this time, DOC deployed an astonishing 242 staff members and 2,701 inmates to battle 66 fires. These crews were on the fire line from one to 17 days at a time, depending on the severity of the fire. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Fire season segues to accounting season

The rains have set in, and the summer wildfire season is rapidly fading into memory. For the Oregon Department of Forestry, though, the current period might be called the “accounting season.”

Paying the bills, collecting reimbursements and handling other financial tasks will take months. 2014 was a severe fire season. The state’s firefighting expenditures ran to more than $75 million. After reimbursements, the net cost is expected to be about $47 million.

Cost of the epic 2013 fire season was even higher. The department spent $122 million that year to put out fires. The net cost calculated to around $75 million.

In both years, hot, dry conditions and abundant lightning produced hundreds of fires across the Oregon landscape.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Hug Point Fire - final update Nov. 14, 2014

The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) will continue to visually inspect mop-up activities
until all final suppression objectives are met and completed on the Hug Point Fire in the Astoria District. 

ODF extends its gratitude to the local fire departments for their assistance with fire suppression efforts and protecting the local neighborhoods. 

Astoria District Forester Dan Goody appreciates the community’s patience as ODF works with forest landowners to improve procedures to prevent similar occurrences from happening in the future. 

At this time no evacuations are in place.

There were no injuries incurred on this incident. 

Size: 100 acres
Cause: under investigation
Location:  Hug Point area, east of Highway 101 between mileposts 34-35.
Evacuations:  NONE
Containment:  75%
Expected Containment: Unknown
Crews and Equipment:  
Dozers/Excavators:  2 (on standby)
Crews:  3
Helicopters: 0
Engines:  3
Water tenders: 1

Total personnel:  33
Road closures: none

For additional information, please contact:
Ashley Lertora, 503-338-8442


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hug Point Complex update - Nov. 13, 2014

Oregon Dept. of Forestry- Astoria District
Neal Bond, Incident Commander

Crews continued to work hard through the night on keeping the fire from spreading. Although the east winds were strong through most of the night, rain started falling on the fire early this morning aiding firefighters’ efforts.  Night Operations Chief Dave Horning said “that within an hour, the rain knocked the flames down and now the firefighters are focused on digging around the stumps and piles to extinguish remaining hot spots.”  

Firefighters intend to take advantage of the rain while it lasts. The change in weather is predicted to only last a short time before the dry, cold, east wind weather pattern returns this weekend.
 Residents and motorists may experience smoky conditions in the Hug Point State Park (Hwy 101 MP 34 area) area.   

Fire at a Glance (11/13/14)

Size: 100 acres
Cause:  under investigation
Location:  Hug Point area, east of Hwy 101 between MP 34-35.
Evacuations:  NONE
Containment:  25%
Expected Containment: 

Crews and Equipment:  
Dozers/Excavators:  2
Crews:  5
Helicopters: 0
Engines:  3
Water Tenders: 2
Fallers: 2                

Total personnel:  68 
Closures: none

For additional information, please contact:
Ashley Lertora, PIO at 503-338-8442 or

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Comments and questions

The purpose of this blog is to provide breaking news about wildfire activity on the forestlands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry. We invite you to post questions or comments you have about current wildfires. Please keep your posts civil and free of profanity. You are also welcome to contact us by email at:

Current wildfire info

Extremely dry conditions exist across most forestlands in Oregon currently. Large wildfires to date this season have been both lightning- and human-caused.

What we do

Protection jurisdiction
The Oregon Dept. of Forestry protects 16 million acres of private and public forestlands from wildfire. This includes all private forestlands in Oregon as well as state- and local government-owned forests, along with 2.8 million acres of federal Bureau of Land Management lands in the western part of the state. There are about 30.4 million total acres of forest in Oregon.

Fire suppression policy
The department fights fire aggressively, seeking to put out most fires at 10 acres or smaller. This approach minimizes damage to the timber resource and fish and wildlife habitat, and protects lives and property. It also saves money. Suppression of large fires can run into millions of dollars.


About Me

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Oregon Dept. of Forestry's public information officers maintain this blog. During the wildfire season, we spend much of our time reporting on fires and firefighting to news media and the public.