2015 another severe fire season

In 2015, more than 631,000 acres burned on all forestland jurisdictions in Oregon. Firefighting costs totaled $240.5 million.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Creed Fire in Sherman County burns more than 12,000 acres

The 12,500-acre Creed Fire 20 miles east of the town of Wasco is evidence that the seasonal transition has taken hold across much of Oregon. The blaze reported July 21 is burning in grass and brush fuels on Bureau of Land Management lands. Cause is under investigation. The Creed Fire serves as a reminder to Oregonians to be especially careful when working and recreating in the outdoors.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Cool, damp weather reduces fire activity across the state

Last week's cooler weather accompanied by rain in most areas calmed wildfire activity statewide. ODF's field districts worked on firefighting readiness to prepare for the expected seasonal upturn in fire starts. Oregon and Washington currently have 116 private contract 20-person hand crews available for dispatch to fires. ODF's helicopters and air tankers stand ready, along with fire engines and crews.

The absence of dry lightning has reduced the No. of new fires seen at this point over the past three seasons. Fire managers remind the public to be "fire aware" while enjoying Oregon's forests.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Lmited moisture not enough to reduce fire danger

News Release
July 8, 2016


Contact: Christie Shaw, ODF Central Oregon District Public Information Officer
christie.shaw@oregon.gov
541-263-0661


While central Oregon is in a pattern of cooler than normal weather, and has received precipitation over the last twenty-four hours, fire danger remains high.  The US Drought Monitor for Oregon issued on July 7, 2016, indicates that most lands within the Central Oregon District (COD) fall into the “abnormally dry” category.  This reflects what fire managers are seeing in the forest and current fuel moisture conditions.  Now into Oregon’s fifth year of drought conditions, we continue to see the long term affects to the down material and live vegetation stressed from limited water.

For the next few days firefighters will benefit from the moisture, because it will be more difficult for a “spark” to ignite a fire and rapidly spread.  This is because of the increased moisture in the fine fuels, but these fuels will quickly dry out even with the moderate temperatures expected over the next few days.  “The biggest concern for us now, during the heart of fire season, is that someone assumes the rain has made it safe to burn.  When surrounding fuels dry out in the days following a debris burn, the remnants of that debris burn rekindle and spread to wildland fuels while no one is watching”,
states Mike Shaw, Central Oregon District Forester. 

Debris burning is not allowed on lands protected by the Central Oregon District of the Oregon Department of Forestry.  Contact information for your local ODF Office can be found on ODF’s Central Oregon District website: www.ODFcentraloregon.com

COD remains in a Regulated Use Closure intended to reduce human caused fires.  Year to date there have been thirty-six human caused fires within the District, primarily related to debris burning.  This number is significantly higher than the ten year average of twenty-eight (for the same time period).  These fires are preventable, causing concern for firefighters and fire managers.  While fire managers have the ability to use modern technology to track thunderstorms and staff with additional resources, human caused fires do not allow that as they occur at random times. 

Please report fires to your local 911 dispatch center.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Oregon Dept. of Forestry fire update - July 5, 2016

Wassen Pond Fire (The Dalles Unit, Central Oregon District) - The Wassen Pond Fire was reported at about 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 3, burning four miles west of The Dalles on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry and Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue.

The fire remains at 300 acres this morning (about 30 acres on ODF jurisdiction) and is 75 percent contained. Line construction will continue today to fully contain the fire.

The fire is under Unified Command between ODF and MCFR. Cause remains under investigation.
 
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Monday, July 4, 2016

Oregon Department of Forestry Fire Update | Monday, July 4, 2016

FIRE PREVENTION REMINDER:
Enjoy celebrating our nation's 240th birthday over the remainder of this holiday week-end, but please be safe and particularly careful with fireworks.

NEW FIRES (10 acres or larger reported on ODF-protected lands over the past 24 hours):

Wassen Pond Fire [The Dalles Unit, Central Oregon District] - The Wassen Pond Fire was reported at about 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 3, burning four miles west of The Dalles on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry and Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue.  The fire, under Unified Command between ODF and MCFR, is currently approximately 180 acres (with most of that acreage on MCFR), and hand- and dozer-lined.  Additional resources from ODF, rural fire departments in the area, and the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area are assisting with this fire.  Cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Fire officials in the Columbia River Gorge urge the public to be extremely cautious and wildfire-safe, particularly with fireworks, as firefighting resources are stretched thin in the area and a Red Flag Warning for high winds and low humidity is in effect.

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Friday, July 1, 2016

Fire Program Review Committee completes work

News Release          
June 30, 2016 
                                   
Doug Grafe, 503-945-7204, doug.grafe@oregon.gov
Jamie Paul, 503-945-7435,
Jamie.l.paul@oregon.gov       
Rod Nichols, 503-945-7425,
rod.l.nichols@oregon.gov


The Oregon Department of Forestry has received final recommendations of the 2015-16 Fire Program Review Committee, focused on improving Oregon’s “complete and coordinated wildfire protection system.”

The recommendations conclude a seven-month process and represent the most comprehensive review of the Department’s fire program in over a decade.  Made up of forest landowners and operators, legislators, governor’s staff and agency partners, the committee proposed changes in three categories: sustainable large fire funding, sustainable wildfire organization, and wildfire policy.

Sustainable large fire funding recommendations included:
• Exploring the creation of a trust fund to pay the public share of large wildfire suppression costs on fires within ODF’s jurisdiction and for reducing wildland fire risk;
• Continuing the purchase  of an annual catastrophic wildfire insurance policy to cover firefighting budget overruns in severe seasons, and also examine other insurance products;
• Conducting a study of the cost equity of the state’s protection of west side Bureau of Land Management lands from wildfire.

Sustainable wildfire organization recommendations included exploring several options to improve the state’s “complete and coordinated wildfire protection system” as well as an option to increase “fire severity” funding by $1.5 million. This would add dollars to the Special Purpose Appropriation, spending authority provided by the Legislature to fund additional firefighting resources during severe wildfire seasons.

Wildfire policy improvements concentrated on the agency partnering to conduct new risk analysis studies.  Recommended studies include one to determine the potential of wildfire to move across ownership boundaries, used to allow forest managers to prioritize landscape-level fuels treatments; a study to compare the cost of fighting wildfires in the wildland-urban interface vs. pure forestland and a study to improve prescribed forest burning opportunities and efficiencies.  Prescribed burning is a proven tool to reduce wildfire hazards by removing excess forest vegetation. The committee also recommended that the agency continue to foster coordination between Rangeland Fire Protection Associations and the BLM and other partners with the aim to strengthen fire suppression capability on Oregon’s rangelands. Privately owned rangelands east of the Cascades do not receive wildfire protection from the state.

The full “2015/2016 Fire Program Review Committee Report to the State Forester” is available on the ODF website, Oregon.gov/odf.

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ODF implements Regulated Use Closure on lands protected by Central Oregon District

June 30, 2016


Prineville, Ore--Lands protected by ODF's Central Oregon District (COD) will be placed under a Regulated Use Closure beginning Friday July 1, 2016 at 12:01 am. The Regulated Use Closure applies to private, county, and state owned lands protected by COD in Deschutes, Grant, Hood River, Wasco, Wheeler, Crook, Jefferson, Morrow, Harney, Umatilla, Lake, and Gilliam counties. The intent of the Closure is to limit human caused wildfires. Recent high temperatures have dried wildland fuels and increased the danger of large fire growth. Human caused fires in COD are above the ten year average for the District, w hich concerns fire managers as we enter the heart of fire season with dry fuels, warm temperatures and an increasing possibility of lightning caused fires.

The full Regulated Use Closure Proclamation can be found on the Central Oregon District website: www.ODFcentraloregon.com. The official Closure includes, but is not limited to the following activities:
* Smoking is prohibited while traveling, except in vehicles on improved roads.
* Open fires are prohibited, including campfires, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires, except in designated areas. A map of designated areas is available on COD's website under Fire Information. Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are allowed.
* Chainsaw use is prohibited, between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Chainsaw use is permitted at all other hours, if the following firefighting equipment is present with each operating saw: one axe, one shovel, and one operational 8 ounce or larger fire extinguisher. In addition, a fire watch is required at least one hour following the use of each saw.
* Use of motor vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, is prohibited, except on improved roads and except for vehicle use by a landowner and employees of the landowner upon their own land while conducting activities associated with their livelihood.
* Possession of the following firefighting equipment is required while traveling in a motorized vehicle, except on federal and state highways, county roads and driveways: one shovel and one gallon of water or one operational 2?1/2 pound or larger fire extinguisher, except all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles which must be equipped with an approved spark arrestor in good working condition.
* Mowing of dried grass with power driven equipment is prohibited, between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., except for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.
* Use of fireworks and blasting is prohibited.

Open fires are allowed by permit only, please contact your local ODF office for information. Exploding targets, tracer ammunition and sky lanterns are prohibited during fire season.

For information on restrictions on public lands contact your local US Forest Service ranger district office or Bureau of Land Management district office.
Contact Info:
Christie Shaw
Public Information Officer
541-263-0661
christie.shaw@oregon.gov
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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: information@odf.state.or.us.

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.

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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.