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.

Monday, October 20, 2014

State declares end to fire season in Central Oregon District

News contact: George Ponte, 541-447-5658, gponte@odf.state.or.us

The Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) Central Oregon District announced today that the 2014 wildfire season on state-protected lands will end Tuesday morning, Oct. 21. All fire season-related rules will be lifted on the district, which encompasses 2.2 million acres of private and public forest and rangeland in 10 counties.

This year to date, 16,582 acres have burned in the district – nearly double the 10-year average of 8,681 acres.

“2014 was a very challenging fire season,” said District Forester George Ponte.

The Two Bulls Fire set the stage for high fire activity, breaking out west of Bend on June 7. Wind spread the fire rapidly, prompting residential evacuations.

A month later the White River Fire ignited in The Dalles Unit. Parched forest fuels and rugged terrain challenged firefighters battling the blaze.  

Wave after wave of thunderstorms swept across Washington and Oregon during the hot, dry summer, starting so many fires that the Pacific Northwest Region emerged as hotspot of the nation. To the district’s firefighters, it seemed like central Oregon lay at the epicenter.

In late July, dry lightning raked the district, igniting several fires in the John Day Unit that were eventually dubbed the Haystack Complex. An ODF fire team took command of the suppression operation and by early August was able to turn management of the complex back over to local forces.

Standard operating procedure would have called for the team to be promptly demobilized and its members sent back to their duty stations around the state. But in view of the extreme fire conditions, fire staff at ODF headquarters in Salem decided to hold the team in the district. Their decision proved to be pivotal.

On Aug. 5, the Rowena Fire broke out west of The Dalles. The fast-moving fire soon forced numerous evacuations. The next day, the team redeployed to the new incident. While a State Fire Marshal’s team positioned structural fire engines on residential streets, ODF firefighters battled to keep the flame front away from threatened neighborhoods. Just one home was lost. Had ODF’s fire team not already been in-district and able to take command in only a few hours, the outcome could have been very different.

Though fire season ends Tuesday, burn permits will still be required for any slash disposal or forest health burning. They are available by contacting ODF. Homeowners wishing to do backyard burning should check with their local fire department prior to burning.

The official closure of the season doesn’t eliminate the need for vigilance. Ponte urged people to continue to be careful with fire when working or recreating in the forest, and especially when doing backyard burning.

“Escaped debris burns are the leading cause of wildfires outside of fire season. People should not burn on windy days and never, ever leave a burn unattended,” he said. “In central Oregon we can have wildfires anytime during the year so for this part of the state, fire season never really ends.”

In 2013, the Central Oregon District entered fire season June 14 and ended Sept. 30.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Pacific Northwest 2014 highlight fire statistics

Following is a summary of various wildfire statistics for the Pacific Northwest Region (Oregon and Washington) in 2014 through Oct. 10:

  • To date, 1,260,088 acres in the Northwest have been consumed by wildfire, which includes 846,945 in Oregon and 413,143 in Washington.

  • There have been a total of 3,506 reported fires in the Northwest region with 93 meeting the criteria of a large fire, which includes 58 in Oregon and 35 in Washington.

  • The NW had a record setting 43 days at No. 1 on the National Incident Management Situation Report.

  • The NW stayed at Preparedness Level 5 for 31 days; the previous record was set in 2006 for 24 days.

  • To date, there have been a total of 128,513 lightning strikes. The single largest day in 2014 recorded 21,094 strikes.

  • In Oregon, the largest fire/complex was the Buzzard Complex for a total of 395,747 acres.

  • The largest fire/complex in Washington was the Carlton Complex at 256,108 acres.

  • The total cost to date exceeds $458,732,493, which includes $278,652,132 in Oregon and $180,080,361 in Washington.

  • During the peak fire activity there were over 12,000 firefighters and support personnel working over 900,000 active fire acres.
 
  • Over 35 Interagency Hotshot Crews from all over the nation were assigned within the region.
 
  • During the peak fire activity, the Northwest region saw 19 Incident Management Teams assigned at the same time. 

  • In 2013 the NW had 4,389 reported fires with a total of 503,993 acres

  • To date there have been 2,024 lightning fires and 1,482 human-caused fires. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Oregon Department of Forestry Fire Update for Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Central Oregon District:  The IFFY Fire was reported at about 4 p.m. on Tuesday, October 14th, burning in timber and brush on private forestlands 26 miles northeast of Prineville.  The 15-acre fire received rain during the evening/early morning and is currently in mop-up.  The fire’s cause is under investigation.  This is the initial and final report on this fire.

 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Fifteen-acre fire reported in Central Oregon District

The 15-acre 0962 Fire was reported Oct. 13 burning on private lands in the Central Oregon District and on the Ochoco National Grassland 10 miles NE of Prineville. The fire was in mop-up by late afternoon. Seven fire engines and one water tender were assigned to the fire. Two rural fire departments and the Bureau of Land Management worked with the Oregon Dept. of Forestry on the blaze. Cause is under investigation.

 

Rye Ridge Road Fire burning in NE Oregon District

Halloween may be only two weeks away, but wildfires keep breaking out. Oregon Dept. of Forestry and U.S. Forest Service firefighters, along with private forest landowners, responded Oct. 13 to the 12-acre Rye Ridge Road Fire burning 35 miles north of the community of Enterprise. Four fire engines, two bulldozers and a helicopter with rappellers responded to the  fire. It was in mop-up by late afternoon. Resources will remain at the fire through Tuesday and possible the day after. Cause is under investigation.

Transitions: summer to fall, wildfire to prescribed fire

As fall weather finally begins to take hold after the long wildfire season, many forest landowners are shifting to another form of fire. Prescribed burning removes downed woody material from the forest, reducing wildfire risk when next summer rolls around. And when conducted following timber harvest, these controlled fires help prepare the soil for replanting of young trees.

In addition to clearing excess vegetation that would otherwise compete with young trees soon to be planted, prescribed burning releases nutrients into the soil to jumpstart their growth.


Oregon’s Forest Practices Act, the first in the nation, requires replanting after logging.

To minimize smoke intrusions into populated areas, Oregon Department of Forestry meteorologists daily monitor weather conditions, and issue forecasts and burning instructions throughout the fall prescribed burning season.

To prevent excessive smoke caused by too many burns at one time, the weather forecasters coordinate hundreds of burning requests from private and public forest landowners.

In contrast to prescribed burns, which take place in fall and also spring, large wildfires typically occur in summer when weather conditions often trap smoke in populated valleys for an extended period.

Since 1972, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) has regulated forestland burning in the state under the Oregon Smoke Management Plan. Though smoke intrusions into populated areas occasionally occur due to unexpected changes in weather and wind conditions, ODF’s oversight of prescribed burning minimizes such occurrences.

More information on prescribed forest burning can be found online, www.oregon.gov/odf

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fire Season not quite over yet - Rock Creek Fire

The Rock Creek Fire was reported late yesterday afternoon burning in north central Oregon approximately 11 miles west of Maupin. The fire was burning in grass and brush near Rock Creek Road, and grew to 14 acres. 

Resources assigned to the fire: 7 engines, 1 water tender and one 3-person hand crew responded.
Today the fire is in mop up.

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.

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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.