Firefighting costs

The Oregon Dept. of Forestry has expended a net of $30.5 million for large fires as of mid-August. With more wildfire activity possible in the weeks ahead, large-fire costs could grow before season's end.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hunters beware of fire danger

Contacts:
Tom Fields, Oregon Dept. of Forestry, (503) 945-7440
Michelle Dennehy, Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, (503) 931-2748

Fire danger is at critical levels across the state of Oregon. Earlier this month fire weather forecasters witnessed an anomaly that literally raised a red flag. Practically the entire state had been painted red on meteorological charts indicating a Red Flag Warning from Florence to Ontario, Astoria to Brookings and nearly everywhere in-between.

“It’s already been a tough fire season,” says Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) Fire Prevention Coordinator Tom Fields. “Firefighting resources have been stretched thin throughout the region and we have a long way to go. The last thing we need right now is a rash of preventable human-caused fires.”

Wildland fire professionals work hard to raise awareness as outdoor enthusiasts head to the forests to enjoy what nature has to offer. With hunting season looming (deer and elk archery seasons kick off Aug. 30), Fields says the message remains clear; “Be part of the solution, not the problem.”

“Careless campfires can destroy habitat, which in turn affects the wildlife and future hunting opportunities,” added Kristin Babbs, executive director of the Keep Oregon Green Association. “What we do now can affect our enjoyment of the great outdoors in years to come.”

Wildfires can be beneficial for wildlife habitat when they create early seral habitat (young forbs and trees) or create a mosaic of habitat types that provides food and cover for wildlife.  But often wildfires are followed by an invasion of noxious weeds like cheatgrass which worsen habitat conditions. When wildfires are followed by a tough winter, game animals may have difficulty finding enough food to survive the winter season.

Follow fire restrictions
As hunters prepare for the 2014 season, the Oregon Department of Forestry, ODFW and its partners ask that hunters take extra caution to keep fires from occurring. Know about restrictions before you go afield and follow them. Below are some of the most common:

·       Campfires are either prohibited or only allowed in approved campgrounds in many areas.

·       Smoking and off road driving is also prohibited, which includes motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles.

·       Vehicles must have either a gallon of water or a fully charged and operational 2½-pound fire extinguisher, plus one ax and one shovel (except when travelling on state highways or county roads).

·        ATVs must have a charged and operational 2½ pound fire extinguisher.

The use of tracer ammunition and exploding targets is also illegal during fire season under legislation passed last year (HB 3199). Be fire smart and use other methods to sight in your rifles. Place targets in areas away from dry vegetation and hard surfaces like rocky hillsides that could spark a fire.

Know before you go
Before heading out, check with land management agencies in the area you plan hunt for restrictions or closures.

Private timberland: For a list of corporate closures, visit ODF’s web site at Oregon.gov/odf under Wildfires /Forest Restrictions & Closures / Landowner / Corporate Closure Chart. This chart is updated frequently and also contains a phone number to get the latest information about restrictions directly from the timber company.

According to Mark Wall, Forestry Manager with Roseburg Resources Co, restrictions can change quickly.  “During fire season, it’s a week to week decision for Roseburg to determine what kind of public recreational access is appropriate for its timberlands.  We continually monitor the weather forecast and current fire danger indices to guide our decision making,” he said.  “Timber companies have made significant investments in their lands and it is essential that we do all what we can to protect our working forests from the threat of human caused wildfires.”

Wall urges anyone looking to hunt on private timberlands to first check with the landowner for the latest closure information and any landowner specific restrictions that might be in effect if access is allowed.  (Find out about restrictions on Roseburg properties by calling 541-784-2895.)

Public land: Check the U.S. Forest Service, BLM or Oregon State Forest website or call them for closures and restrictions. Also visit http://firerestrictions.us/

ODFW’s Phillip W. Schneider Wildlife Area (Murderers Creek Unit, Grant County) remains closed to all access as of today due to the South Fork Complex Fire. “Once the fire is contained, ODFW will work directly with local fire officials to reopen portions of the wildlife area as fire fighter and public safety permits,” says Wildlife Area Manager Dan Marvin.

2014 fire season
Nearly 800,000 acres have burned in 2014 on lands protected by ODF, the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Rangeland Protective Associations. The 2014 fire season has already reached record proportions and the summer is far from over.

Much of the damage has come in the form of lightning-packed thunderstorms, something firefighters can prepare for, but can’t prevent. Human-caused fires, on the other hand, are something all Oregonians can do something about. The 6,900-acre Two Bulls Fire and the 2,535-acre Moccasin Hill Fire are two large fires this season that were started by people. The Moccasin Hill Fire also destroyed 35 structures.

This is an Oregon Department of Forestry fire update for August 26, 2014.

NEW  FIRES
No new fires 10 acres or larger were reported burning on lands protected by ODF.

FIRE UPDATES
The 614-acre Deception Creek Complex burning 28 miles south of the community of Oakridge on the Willamette National Forest is 53 percent contained. ODF’s South Cascade District continues to assist the U.S. Forest Service on the fire to prevent it from spreading to private lands. ODF is in unified command with Oregon Team 4 led by incident commander Brian Watts. ODF retiree Ross Holloway is IC for ODF’s contingent. ODF is focusing its efforts on the northeast side of the fire closest to Oakridge. Total resources at the fire include: 26 hand crews, 31 fire engines, nine helicopters and 1,021 personnel. ODF resources include a strike team of five fire engines, with eight management (overhead) positions rounding out the total number of department personnel at 20. Lightning started the complex of fires on July 30. For more information: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4093/

Information about fires on other jurisdictions can be found at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov and http://nwccweb.us/index.aspx.

ABOUT THIS UPDATE
ODF is responsible for fire protection on about 16 million acres of private and state-owned forest and grazing land, and certain other public forestlands including those owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in western Oregon. Fires may cross ownerships, and because of the need to share firefighting resources, agencies work closely together.

This update focuses primarily on firefighting activity on Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands involving fires 10 acres or larger in size or of other significance. It also reports on ODF’s major actions as a partner with other agencies.

FIRES ON OTHER JURISDICTIONS IN OREGON
More information on these fires can be found at: http://nwccweb.us/index.aspx and http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/

Statewide air quality index readings are available at http://www.deq.state.or.us/aqi/index.aspx.

OTHER FIRE INFORMATION & LINKS
ODF maintains a blog at http://wildfireoregondeptofforestry.blogspot.com/, which includes comprehensive breaking news on wildfires statewide, along with current fire statistics, and a frequently updated Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/ORDeptForestry.

For information on wildfires in other jurisdictions within Oregon, go to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center website, http://www.nwccweb.us/ and to the national Incident Information System website at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/. Statewide air quality index readings are available at http://www.deq.state.or.us/aqi/index.aspx.

NEWS MEDIA
News media may call the Fire Information Duty Officer, (see below), 24/7 for fire information. The duty officer will call back promptly. Media may also call the Oregon Department of Forestry headquarters office, 503-945-7200, weekdays during business hours.

Rod Nichols
Oregon Dept. of Forestry
503-945-7425 office
503-508-0574 mobile

 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Fire Update for Monday, August 25, 2014

NEW  FIRES

The Whiskey Creek Fire was reported Sunday burning in grass and timber approximately 10 miles west of LaGrande. The 11-acre fire was contained in initial attack, and is now in patrol status.

FIRE UPDATES

South Fork Complex (partially on ODF protected lands).
These July 31 lightning-caused fires located 20 miles southwest of John Day Oregon now cover approximately 66,126 acres and are 96 percent contained. As of Sunday a local fire management organization took over command of the South Fork Complex from Oregon Team 2.
The fire information number has changed to 541-575-3000.
More information online: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4042/  

Deception Creek Complex (USFS) ODF’s South Cascade District has been assisting the USFS with suppression activities on this 468-acre fire located west of Oakridge on the Middle Fork Ranger District of the Willamette National Forest.

ABOUT THIS UPDATE
ODF is responsible for fire protection on about 16 million acres of private and state-owned forest and grazing land, and on certain other public forestlands including those owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in western Oregon. Fires may cross ownerships, and because of the need to share firefighting resources, agencies work closely together.

This update focuses primarily on firefighting activity on Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands involving fires 10 acres or larger in size or of other significance. It also reports on ODF’s major actions as a partner with other agencies.

FIRES ON OTHER JURISDICTIONS IN OREGON
More information on these fires can be found at: http://nwccweb.us/index.aspx and http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/

Statewide air quality index readings are available at http://www.deq.state.or.us/aqi/index.aspx.

OTHER FIRE INFORMATION & LINKS
ODF maintains a blog at http://wildfireoregondeptofforestry.blogspot.com/, which includes comprehensive breaking news on wildfires statewide, along with current fire statistics, and a frequently updated Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/ORDeptForestry.

For information on wildfires in other jurisdictions within Oregon, go to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center website, http://www.nwccweb.us/ and to the national Incident Information System website at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/. Statewide air quality index readings are available at http://www.deq.state.or.us/aqi/index.aspx.

NEWS MEDIA


News media may call the Fire Information Duty Officer, (see below), 24/7 for fire information. The duty officer will call back promptly. Media may also call the Oregon Department of Forestry headquarters office, 503-945-7200, weekdays during business hours.



As seasonal change approaches, don't let your guard down

Whether it’s human nature or just wishful thinking, we tend to relax our guard against wildfire this time of year at the first signs of the seasonal transition. In the heart of summer amid triple-digit temperatures, we almost expect raging blazes like the Oregon Gulch Fire that consumed 1,000 acres an hour at its peak. While such extreme fire behavior may be less likely now, the dragon can still breathe flames.

This week, both the Douglas Forest Protective Association and the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District announced a rise in the Industrial Fire Precaution Level in their jurisdictions due to hot, dry conditions in the forest. A map charting significant fire potential (http://nfdrs.smkmgt.com/sfp/ODF_Significant_Fire_Potential.htm) shows most of the state at “high,” with the southwest corner registering “extreme.” Lands in either classification can spawn a large, destructive fire.

The potential for dry lightning – the cause of Oregon’s largest fires - historically diminishes in late summer. As the threat from Nature recedes, though, human activity comes to the fore as the chief wildfire concern. Forest fuels are still bone-dry and primed to burn. If we take extra care when recreating or working in the forest, human-caused fires can be prevented.

The Keep Oregon Green Association (www.keeporegongreen.org/) offers common-sense advice on how to prevent fires when camping and recreating in the forest.

South Fork Complex Update


Today a local fire management organization took over command of the South Fork Complex from Oregon Team 2. The fire information number has changed to 541-575-3000.

Road 24 will be temporarily closed from the Malhear NF boundary, west to the 42 Road. Firefighters will be cutting snags (fire-killed hazardous trees) in the area.

Yesterday
Crews continued to make good progress with securing the fire perimeter in all flanks of the fire. Firefighters are working cautiously in areas near the old Thorn Creek Fire where numerous snags are posing a significant risk. Aerial reconnaissance was used to patrol the perimeter and monitor fire behavior.

Weather and Fire Behavior
The forecast is for partly cloudy skies with isolated afternoon thunderstorms. Temperatures will be in the 60s-70s in the valleys and relative humidities dropping into the 20% range. Starting Tuesday a high pressure will be building throughout the week. This will bring a warming and drying trend. Winds will become light and variable.

Fire behavior includes creeping with isolated flare ups. As the weather warms up, single tree torching may occur.

Today’s Operations

In the southern and eastern flanks mop-up, patrol and fire suppression repair will continue. The north and west perimeters are being patrolled and monitored from the air. Aerial support is available for bucket drops on the fire and for initial attack operations.

Closures
Due to decreased fire activity in and around the South Fork Complex, the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Grant County Sheriff’s Office have reduced closure areas and evacuation levels. For details and maps of the closure changes see: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/4042/

Forest visitors traveling in the area this weekend are advised to drive slowly along the narrow forest roads and be aware of the possibility of falling trees weakened from fire, rolling rocks and fire traffic. Note – The Forest Road 21 is closed between the NF boundary on the north and the junction of Rd. 2108.

Maps and other information, are available online at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4042/

Friday, August 22, 2014

Central Oregon Fire Update

Central Oregon - There are several changes this morning to closures in the National Forests due to reduced fire activity on the Muskrat and South Forks Fires.

In the Deschutes National Forest, the West Cultus Lake boat-in Campground and trails north of Cultus Lake have reopened to public entry.  Also, the entire closure area in the Ochoco National Forest has reopened to the public, although there are still closures in place on BLM and Malheur National Forests associated with the South Forks Complex.  The fire information number for this incident is 866-347-0636 or find the most recent closures and announcements at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4042/.  The South Forks Complex is now 90% contained. 

Public use restrictions as well as an Industrial Fire Precaution Level III (IFPL III) are still in place for federal lands in Central Oregon.  The public use restriction currently prohibits open fires, including charcoal fires, except in designated campgrounds.  

IFPL III means that personal and commercial woodcutters are prohibited from operating power saws.  Public use restrictions and the IFPL III apply to the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests, Crooked River National Grassland, and the BLM Prineville District.  

For details on these specific restrictions, please contact the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center at 541-416-6811. 
                                                                                                                                              

Cooler weather, high fire danger

With cooler weather forecasted, fire officials with the Douglas Forest Protective Association are reminding the public that the fire danger is still high throughout Douglas County.

 “The prolonged drought conditions throughout the area, along with the above normal temperatures for much of the summer have made our forests very dry” says DFPA Fire Prevention Specialist Kyle Reed.  “Even with the cooler weather that we are expecting, wildfires can easily start and spread quickly.”

Reed reminds that DFPA’s Regulated Use Closure remains in effect for the general public.  The Regulated Use Closure restricts or prohibits certain high fire risk activities on all private, county, state, and BLM land protected by DFPA.  Restrictions include:
  • Open fires, including campfires, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires are prohibited except at designated campgrounds. Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are allowed. 
  • Chain saw use is prohibited, between the hours of 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. in areas subject to Industrial Fire Precaution Level I and II. Non-industrial chainsaw use is prohibited during IFPL III or IV. When chainsaws are being used, an 8-oz. fire extinguisher and shovel must be on site and a fire watch is required when the chainsaw use is done.
  • The use of motor vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, is prohibited, except on improved roads.
  • A shovel AND one gallon of water or one operational 2½ lb. or larger fire extinguisher is required in each vehicle when traveling in wildland areas.  All-terrain vehicles and motorcycles must be equipped with one operational 2½ lb. or larger fire extinguisher.
  • The use of fireworks, tracer ammunition, exploding targets, and sky lanterns are prohibited.
  • The cutting, grinding and welding of metal is prohibited. 
  • The mowing of dried and cured grass with power driven equipment is prohibited, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.
  • Any electric fence controller in use shall be: 1) Listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory or be certified by the Department of Consumer and Business Services; and 2) Operated in compliance with manufacturer’s instructions.

Due to the fire danger, many large landowners in Douglas County have imposed additional fire restrictions or closures on their lands.  These restrictions and closures are in addition to DFPA’s Regulated Use Closure.  Reed suggests that residents check with the landowner for the location they plan to recreate on, before they head to the woods.


DFPA has suppressed 92 fires this year which have burned about 31 acres.  63 of those fires have been human caused.

 

###

 
Kyle Reed

Fire Prevention Specialist

Douglas Forest Protective Association

Office: (541) 672-6507 ext. 136

Cell: (541) 580-2789

 

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: information@odf.state.or.us.

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.

Followers

About Me

My Photo
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.