Thursday, September 3, 2015

Weather favors suppression of Eagle Complex

Sept. 3, 2015

Cooler temperatures, higher humidity and a little rain are assisting firefighters on the lightning caused Eagle Complex Fire, located 20 miles northwest of Richland, Oregon. Approximately 0.04 inch rain was received in the area of the fire on Wednesday night. The fire is managed by a local Type 3 incident management team, led by Willy Crippen, Incident Commander.  The complex is 12,702 acres, with 62 percent containment. There are 180 personnel assigned to the fire, including four crews, nine engines, four water tenders, five dozers, and four helicopters. Weather conditions are allowing fire officials to release 2 helicopters today to assist with other incidents.

Crews are building hand line directly along the perimeter of the fire in the vicinity of Two Color Creek, in the northwest portion of the fire. They completed approximately 1-½ miles of fire line on Wednesday, tying it in to existing roads and natural fuel breaks; such as rocks and wet meadows. Masticators have been cutting and chipping fuels along roads, preparing these roads to be used as fire line, in the southwest area of the fire. Expert tree fallers are arriving Thursday, to fall hazardous snags near the perimeter of the fire in East Eagle Creek and along the west side of the fire.
Crews are continuing to mop up along the east perimeter of the fire, extinguishing smokes within 100 feet of the fire’s edge.  Firefighters are continuing to mop up around the cabins and structures along FS Road 7745, by East Eagle Creek.  On Wednesday, helicopters dropped water within the perimeter of the fire, on the northwest corner and the northeast side of East Eagle Creek. The fire team has been assisted by three firefighters in leadership roles from Australia for the last week. The Australians are leaving today in route to a fire in Washington.

The Eagle Complex Fire Area Closure was reduced in size on September 1. Please visit  to view the reduced closure area.
Information about the Eagle Complex Fire can be found at:

The public use restrictions on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest are reduced to Phase B on September 3. Weather has modified slightly, but fire danger remains high to extreme. This change allows campfires ONLY in designated campgrounds and recreation sites, and in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Operating a chain saw is still prohibited. Traveling off developed forest roads and trails is not allowed. Motorized travel on closed roads is prohibited, and smoking restrictions are still in effect. Additional information about Public Use Restrictions and emergency closure areas on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest can be found at Oregon smoke condition information is available at


Oregon Dept. of Forestry fire update - 09-03-15

Today's Periscope video of the overall fire situation and update, as well as a fire prevention message from ODF Fire Division Chief Doug Grafe at


ODF Central Oregon District - John Day Unit: The lighting-caused Canyon Creek Complex, started on August 12 and located one mile south of John Day and Canyon City, is at 105,684 acres (16,981 ODF-protected acres) and 57 percent contained. The complex, which destroyed 44 primary residences, has 1,016 personnel assigned and is under Unified Command of the Great Basin Incident Management Team 1 (IC Lund) and the Oregon State Fire Marshal Red Team (IC Walker).
More Information: 541-820-3643 or 541-820-3633 | | | | #canyoncreekcomplex |

ODF Northeast Oregon District - Wallowa Unit:

The Falls Creek Fire, started on August 22, five miles southwest of Joseph, is 353 acres (79 acres ODF-protected) and 63 percent contained. The fire has been turned over to the local unit and impacts no additional ODF-protected acreage, so, unless the situation changes, this will be the final report on this fire.
More Information: 541-426-5633 | | |

The lightning-caused Grizzly Bear Complex, started on August 13, 20 miles southeast of Dayton, WA and near Troy, OR, is 74,634 acres (10,107 of ODF-protected acreage, including 3,299 acres of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife lands) and 27 percent contained. The complex, which destroyed five primary residences (33 total structures), has 1,015 personnel assigned and is being managed by Washington Incident Management Team 4 (IC Gales).
More Information: 541-437-0138 | http://inciweb.nwcg.giv/incident/4511 | | | | #grizzlybearcomplex

ODF Northeast Oregon District - Baker Sub-Unit

The lightning-caused Eagle Complex, started on August 10, 16 miles northeast of Baker City, is at 12,702 acres (364 ODF-protected acres) and 60 percent contained. The fire has been turned over to a local smaller fire management organization (East Blues Local Type 3 - IC Crippen), and 188 personnel are currently assigned. The fire is not impacting any additional ODF-protected lands so, unless the situation changes, this will be the final report on this fire.
More information: 541-406-0201 | |

Douglas Forest Protective Association (DFPA): The human-caused Stouts Fire, started on July 30, 11 miles east of Canyonville, remains at 26,452 acres (11,239 ODF-protected acres) and today is 96 percent contained. The fire has 272 personnel assigned and is being managed by a smaller fire management organization (Florida Forest Service Type 3 - IC Mike Work).
More information: 541-825-3724 or 206-402-7175 | | www:// | | #stoutsfire |

For information on wildfires on all jurisdictions in Oregon, view:
* the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center website, or
* the national Incident Information System site.

Online and social media resources:
* department's web site
* department's blog for news on wildfires statewide and provides current fire statistics.
* Southwest Oregon District blog with district specific wildfire info, and follow the Twitter feed covering fires as they occur.
* Douglas Forest Protective Association website, Facebook Page and Twitter feed.
* Blue Mountain Interagency Wildfire blog for news on wildfires in the Blue Mountains (northeast Oregon)
* ODF Forest Grove District's Fire blog with district-specific wildfire information
* ODF Central Oregon District's Twitter feed
* Keep Oregon Green website, Facebook page and Twitter feed

* ODOT Tripcheck
* Evacuation - Ready, Set, Go!
* Wildfire Smoke

This update provides information primarily about fires on Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands involving fires 10 acres or larger. ODF provides fire protection primarily on private and state-owned forestland, and Bureau of Land Management forestlands west of the Cascades, and also works closely with partner firefighting agencies.

Stouts Creek Fire update - 09-03-15

Crews continue to work to contain the Stouts Creek Fire conducting repair work and expanding mop-up operations. Crews have been and will continue to be replaced, as necessary. Fire size remains at 26,452 acres and is 96 percent contained. 

The Level 1 evacuation notice has been lifted for the Stouts Creek fire. The State of Oregon Department of Forestry released a new statement for “Regulated Closure Proclamation” Number 10. This proclamation was effective on August 29, 2015. Please visit the Douglas Forest Protection Association web site for more information

There are 272 personnel assigned to the fire with three crews, 10 fire engines and one bulldozer/excavator. To date, the Stouts Creek Fire has cost $38 million.

The Incident Management Team is protecting lands that are about 46 percent on state-protected lands, which include Bureau of Land Management and private lands and 54 percent on the Umpqua National Forest.


● 26,452 acres
● 96% contained
● Personnel: 272
● Hand crews: 3
● Engines: 10
● Excavator: 1
● Water Tenders: 0
● Evacuations:None at this time

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Fire season still in effect - Recent precipitation misnomer to fire danger

Contact:              Tom Fields          
                              Oregon Department of Forestry
                              (503) 945-7440

The recent rainfall that fell across Oregon in variable amounts has fire officials concerned.

“Now is not the time for folks to let their guard down,” says Oregon Department of Forestry Fire Prevention Coordinator Tom Fields. “We’re still in the midst of three consecutive fire seasons that have wreaked havoc in all four corners of the state. And while the small amount of rain was a welcome relief, we are far from putting this fire season to bed.”

For the most part, the significant rainfall since August 24 landed along the Oregon coast and Willamette Valley. The north Cascades also received in excess of an inch of rain while the rest of the state remained fairly dry. Fuels receptive to sparks and embers remain abnormally dry and are still prone to ignite and carry fire with ease. Add to the mix the region’s early fall east winds that blow over the Cascades like California’s Santa Anna winds, and the threat doubles. The Scoggins Creek, Yellow Point and Lost Hubcap fires from 2014 are prime examples of September fires that grew out of control, threatened communities, and cost millions of dollars to put out. Broken down, the Scoggins Creek Fire burned 211 acres and cost $1.9 million; Yellow Point burned 789 acres and cost $5.6 million; and Lost Hubcap burned 2,712 acres and cost $3.1 million.

“The bottom line,” according to Fields, “is that we still need to exercise caution and follow fire restrictions in effect when working or recreating in wildland areas.”

Campfires remain prohibited on private and public lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry as well as all state parks. The exception is developed and approved campgrounds in some areas.

“Your best bet is to know before you go. Check with the local authority before heading out.” Fields says another tool is ODF’s fire restrictions interactive map on the web at

While many corporate private lands remain closed due to the continued fire danger, hunting season is still open. Hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts must have landowner permission before entering and follow all public fire use restrictions, such as no smoking or off-road driving.

Outdoor debris burning also remains prohibited. Other fire-starting activities currently restricted include the use of power equipment such as chainsaws and lawn mowers cutting dry grass. Those activities can only be done early in the day when fire danger is at its lowest.


Keeping Oregon Green…one wildfire at a time?

Sept. 2, 2015

By the Oregon Cattlemen's Association 

Smothering smoke. Burning heat. Charred remains. Wildfires are natural disasters that should never be taken lightly. But how do you prepare for something that you know is going to happen, but are not given the when or where on the timing of the strike? Meet the Oregon Rangeland Fire Protection Association. The group, initially formed in 1964, is made up of Oregon ranchers who have come together to form a volunteer firefighting program that an Oregon Department of Forestry report is calling a grass roots success story.

Silas Skinner, 37, is a rancher from Oregon’s far East corner of Jordan Valley. He is president of the local RFPA and said the idea for the Jordan Valley association started during a fire in 2006. The disaster left many ranchers feeling helpless when it came to protecting their animals, land and local communities. Skinner said sitting back and watching the action didn’t bode well with many from the area. “The main thing was to be able to fight the fire,” he said.

Fast forward to 2015. With the drought the state of Oregon is currently experiencing, no one was shocked when a fire was called in during a lighting storm on June 28th. Phil Obendorf, a young rancher from Wilder, Idaho, caught word that the Jaca Reservoir fire was burning on Oregon land where his cattle were grazing. The first thought that ran through his head was, “save the cows lives.” Obendorf is a member of Oregon’s Jordan Valley RFPA and showed up to fight the fire at 7 p.m. that night, soon after the flames had begun to burn. With over 400 cattle grazing the land the fire was engulfing, Obendorf shuddered to think what the outcome might be.

Vale BLM was first to arrive on the scene and brought around 35 personnel including eight different vehicles/firefighting equipment. RFPA also received word of the fire via a radio system their ranchers carry at all times in case of emergency. Skinner was in the middle of cutting hay when he got the call. He and his wife, brother and brother’s wife all grabbed their equipment and rushed to the scene. Moments after BLM’s arrival, Jordan Valley RFPA had over 40 personnel and 28 pieces of equipment on sight. After conferring with BLM, the two groups split off to cover more ground.

Clint Fillmore, 44, acts as a liaison between Jordan Valley RFPA and Vale BLM. He carries two different radios, one for each group, that allow him to tell one group what area the other is currently covering. “We had three areas going on that fire at one time,” Fillmore said. Every member is required to carry a radio for safety. Larry Moore of Vale BLM said, “Over the last several years there has been outstanding synchronization of operations, specifically radio procedures, which helps to more effectively coordinate cooperative efforts in a seamless way.”

25 year old RFPA member Annie Mackenzie drove over an hour and half to help battle the flames. “When I’m driving out there its nerve racking, but once I’m there it’s down to business,” she said. Mackenzie drove a water tinder, a semi-truck carrying a water tank, and supplied both BLM and RFPA with water as needed. “We’re (BLM and RFPA) definitely working together.”

36 hours elapsed before Skinner resigned himself to taking a break. He reports that during their time, five to six RFPA personnel dedicated themselves to herding cattle out of the fire’s aggressive path, while the rest focused on dousing the flames. By July 1st the fire was controlled and by the 3rd it was contained. During the time it burned the fire consumed 13, 460 acres.

For Obendorf, that meant 12,000 acres of prime cattle grazing was out of commission for the next 2 years. Still, he’s thankful crews were able to save what they did.

“The RFPA is made up of ranchers that know the area which is key in helping fight wildfires,” Obendorf said. While he lost three cows, three calves and one bull in the flames, the RFPA was able to herd 400 of his cattle away from the fire, something government agencies don’t always have enough staffing to accomplish. “The RFPA saved my herd,” Obendorf said.

There are over 14 RFPA groups around Oregon consisting of over 600 volunteer members. While wildfires may seem a distant concern to some of Oregon’s urban areas, they have a direct impact on the state’s budget and in a way burn right through the heart of the capital. Volunteer programs, like the RFPA, help protect Oregon’s rangeland and its finances.

Oregon prides itself in its beautiful landscapes and vibrant variety of wildlife. Fillmore sees that wildfires endanger that beauty in that they are a threat to Oregon communities, wildlife and animals. Why fight fires? “I do it because we have to protect the rangeland and wildlife,” he said.

“You can’t just sit there and hope for the best,” Mackenzie added. “It’s my brothers, my cousins, my neighbors, my friends. If they need one more person out there to watch their back, I want to be that person.”

Being a volunteer Oregon firefighter is a time consuming job. Especially when there are cows to be fed, water troughs to fill, and gates to fix. “It takes time that’s not available,” said Fillmore. “But is it worth it? The answer is yes.”

The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association was founded in 1913 and works to promote environmentally and socially sound industry practices, improve and strengthen the economics of the industry, and protect its industry communities and private property rights.

- By Kayli Hanley

Canyon Creek Complex morning fact sheet - 09-02-15

Fire Information:                     (541) 820-3643 or (541) 820-3633 (staffed 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.)
Email Address:                                      
Malheur NF:                  
Twitter:                                      @MalheurNF  
Air Quality Index:         

Cause:                                       Lightning

Date of Origin:                         August 12, 2015

Location:                                   One mile south of the towns of John Day and Canyon City, Oregon.

Types of Fuel:                         Timber with brush/grass understory; areas of medium logging slash.

Structures Threatened:              100

Structures Damaged:                50

Residences Destroyed:             43

Current Size:                            105,684 acres (no infrared flight last night)

Percent Containment:               52%

Number of Personnel:                  1,014

Types of resources:                 2 Type 1 (hotshot) crews, 23 Type 2 crews, 5 helicopters, 54 engines, 13 dozers, 20 water tenders, 9 skidgines, 1 masticator.

All Evacuation Levels lowered as of 6 a.m. today. 

Canyon Creek Complex Recent Activities:

   Night shift crews continued to make progress strengthening fire lines and mopping up along the entire northern perimeter of the fire.  Fire activity moderated through the night due to higher relative humidity and operations occurred with no issues.

   Additional resources continue to arrive and are being incorporated into the operational plan, mostly on the northern and eastern flanks to hold the completed line.

   Spot fires east of the 1640 Road challenged firefighters along the High Lakes Rim. Crews and air support worked yesterday to contain them, however low relative humidity and higher temps made the fire resistant to control. Firefighters had to pull out as smoke hindered visibility and potential for spotting below crews made it unsafe to continue operations. Today crews will again engage in this effort and are hopeful lower temperatures and higher relative humidity will aid in their efforts.

   Firefighters worked on two spot fires located in the northeast area of the fire yesterday. Air support dropped retardant on one and firefighters constructed a dozer line around the other. Crews will continue to work on these two spots today.

   Because of active fire activity in the High Lakes basin, causing spotting and increased smoke, the fire module and an additional crew that were hiking into the Strawberry Lake Basin left the area due to unsafe conditions.

   Cooler weather will move into the area with slight wind gusts and higher relative humidity. This should calm fire activity and allow firefighters to make progress in several areas.

   Firefighters continue providing structure protection and strengthening dozer and hand lines in the Dog Creek, Pine, Indian, and Strawberry Creek areas.

   Repair operations will continue along the entire western and southern flanks.

   The Oregon National Guard will continue to work on the western and southern edge of the fire focusing on suppression repair and reinforcing the line.

   A full contingent of aircraft will be active today.

ODOT: CR 62, the 16 Road and Highway 395 are open for through travel with no restrictions. Be advised that crews may still be working on the roads and drivers are urged to use caution.  Smoke will continue for some time, please do not report unless active fire is seen.

Public Safety Alert: If traveling through the area that has burned, please do not leave your vehicles and walk through ashes due to hot spots, stump holes and falling trees. 

Grant County Sheriff: The Grant County Sheriff’s Office reminds people to be respectful of private property and to remain on the road unless invited. Trespassing is punishable by law and violators will be prosecuted.

Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER): A BAER team has been ordered and will begin to conduct a watershed assessment of the area in order to plan rehabilitation of fire lines and mitigate soil erosion.

Air Quality Index: Smoke levels may reach unhealthy levels for sensitive groups range from time to time. For more specific information visit Oregon Smoke Information at


After the fire: Technical advice and guidance available from Oregon Dept. of Forestry

Christie Shaw
Public Information Officer
(541) 263-0661

It has been nearly three weeks since the Mason Springs and Berry Creek fires came roaring down canyon, consuming everything in their path.  These fires merged, known as the Canyon Creek Complex, they continue to burn in the surrounding hillsides.  While the smoke still lingers and the shock starts to wear off, residents begin the planning stages of the difficult rebuilding process.  Thoughts of how to rebuild and reclaim a community from the fire aftermath are forming.  The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) wants to be a part of this process of restoring communities in Grant County.
The John Day Unit of ODF employs a staff that can help by providing technical assistance to landowners in the rebuilding of their forested landscapes.  This staff is vital in helping the community return the forests and wildland back to pre-fire conditions over time while meeting the requirements of the Oregon Forest Practices Act.
Scorched and burned out silhouettes remain where grass, shrubs and trees were once part of the landscape.  As we move toward fall and the rainy season, fragile soil that was held in place by this vegetation becomes a threat to water quality.  Rules in the Oregon Forest Practices Act are intended to limit damage to soils and streamside vegetation which can filter ash and sediment from run-off on these blackened slopes.  While you may want to get started right away clearing burned vegetation, that vegetation may be critical for soil stabilization until new plants become established.  ODF Stewardship Foresters can help landowners navigate through the rules and processes which are in place to maintain healthy forests. 
ODF wants to assist landowners through the process for removing hazard trees near homes and infrastructure as well as planning for and implementing salvage logging operations and post fire recovery efforts on private forestlands.  ODF John Day Unit Stewardship Forester Ryan Miller explains, “We don’t want to stop someone from removing a tree that poses a safety hazard, we just want to ensure that we protect streams and soil. We can provide landowners options and technical advice for removing hazards while protecting the environment.”  Stewardship Foresters can also provide advice on how to restore vegetation back to a site.  Contact the local ODF Office in John Day (541-575-1139) for more information. 

Additional information and guidance for forest activities is available online at

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

The weather conditions setting up for this summer are ominous: continuing drought, meager winter snowpack, and above-average temperatures forecast through August.

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.