Current situation

Fires in the Garner Complex in Josephine County have burned close to a 1,000 acres since Sunday. ODF Incident Management Team 2 has taken command of the Complex to allow the Southwest Oregon District to focus on dozens of other lightning-sparked wildfires. While temperatures in many parts of Oregon won't be quite as hot today, conditions are drier than normal for this time of year. The U.S. Drought Monitor reports that 99% of Oregonians live in areas that are abnormally dry or in moderate drought, with southeast Oregon already in severe drought.

Many ODF districts and forest protective associations have raised their fire danger level and tightened restrictions on activities linked to fire starts. Check ODF's fire restrictions and closures web page for the latest details at http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx





Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Gov. Kate Brown declares a statewide wildfire emergency

SALEM, Ore.  — Governor Kate Brown today declared a statewide wildfire emergency, which activates Operation Plan Smokey to make Oregon National Guard (ONG) troops and resources available to the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF). At the request of ODF, aviation assets will be made available to wildfire crews in Oregon. Oregon National Guard ground troops have not yet been requested but are now available if wildfire conditions worsen.

"The wildfire season has escalated in Oregon much earlier normal, and crews are working around the clock to keep homes and resources safe," Gov. Kate Brown said. "Given drought conditions and hotter than usual temperatures, Oregonians should be prepared for an intense wildfire season this year. I'm committed to making state resources available to ensure crews have the resources they need, and I also urge the public to be mindful of fire restrictions and use caution this summer to help keep Oregon green."

Operation Plan Smokey is an agreement between the ONG and the ODF that allows guard resources to be deployed to assist in wildfire management and suppression. Additionally, the emergency declaration allows Office of Emergency Management to coordinate with other states for assets if needed in the future. 

 
                                                                                 
 
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Containment on Silver Creek Fire reaches 65 percent as mop up continues

SILVER FALLS STATE PARK, Ore. - This lightning-caused fire in dense forest is now reported to be 65 percent contained. About 115 personnel remained to work on the 27-acre fire Wednesday. Overnight, crews used an infrared camera to look for hot spots within the fire's perimeter in a remote part of Silver Falls State Park. This revealed good progress on extinguishing remaining heat.

Most of the snags that posed a threat to firefighter safety have now been removed, although some large hazard trees remain. Smoke can still be seen rising from some of these fire-damaged trees.

Visitors to Silver Falls State Park will find pleasant conditions. Light smoke may be visible at times, but heavy smoke is unlikely. Other fires burning in the region may be responsible for increased haze in the area. While some closures remain in the Park, the Ranches have reopened. No scheduled events are being interrupted. The Park's landmark waterfalls remain fully accessible to visitors during normal Park hours.

Over 540 personnel are now engaged on the Garner Complex in southern Oregon

MERLIN, Ore. - The Garner Complex, made up of 12 fires in Josephine County, grew in the past 24 hours by about 700 acres. It's size was estimated this morning at 960 acres. More than 540 personnel are engaged on the fires, including ODF's Incident Management Team 2. The team is directing operations from the Incident Command Post at the BLM Sprague Seed Orchard in Merlin, Ore.

Ground and aerial resources are being used to fight the fires, which were caused by lightning. This morning there were nine fire engines, two water tenders, seven dozers, eight helicopters and 18 hand crews assigned to the fire. With dozens of wildfires in southern Oregon and five other incident management teams from different agencies deployed in the region, finding fire crews, air support and equipment is a challenge.

The team managing the fires plan to fully contain the smaller fires in the complex, construct firelines around the larger ones and keep looking for any new fires in the area.

Among the fires in the complex are the Grave Creek Fires, Spencer Creek Fires and Pleasant Creek Fire.

For more information about the Garner Complex fires, go online to https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5935/

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

ODF sends Incident Management Team 2 to help with lightning fires in Southwest Oregon District

ODF's Incident Management Team 2 was dispatched overnight to take command of a series of fires in Josephine County at the request of the Southwest Oregon District. The district is dealing with 68 reported wildfires that have occurred since a lightning storm passed through the area Sunday.

The Team will be operating out of an incident command post in the community of Merlin, north of Grants Pass. Led by Incident Commander Chris Cline, the team is responsible for fires within the Garner Complex, including:

Grave Creek Fires
Four fires are in this group. The fires are about 17 miles north of the town of Rogue River in the vicinity of Upper Grave Creek Road several miles east of Wolf Creek and visible from the community of Wimer. No structures are threatened. The total area of the fires is estimated at 115 acres. The fire with the most potential to spread today is Grave Creek Fire No. 3. Getting control of this fire is the top priority for firefighters. Aerial and ground resources are continuing to aggressively attack these fires as they work lengthen current control lines along the flanks. Winds along ridgelines will test those control lines today.

Pleasant Creek Fire
Located 15 miles north of Rogue River, this fire is estimated at 60 acres. Ground resources are working to build lines around the fire today while aircraft work to cool off the leading edge of the fire to stop further spread. No structures are threatened.

Spencer Creek Fires
This is a group of about three fires approximately 12 miles south of Grants Pass. The fires are highly visible from I-5 and Grants Pass, Applegate, Williams and the Illinois Valley. The combined size of the fires is estimated at 105 acres. Two of the fires were lined overnight. However, Spencer Creek Fire No. 3 is pushing firefighters to their limits. No structures are threatened.

The Southwest Oregon District is working to knock down and contain other fires in the area, including fires in the Wagner Creek Complex in Jackson County. Among these fires are:

Green Top Mountain
This fire 5 miles northeast of Eagle Point is holding at 125 acres. Firefighters completed control lines around the perimeter of the fire Monday night. Containment now stands at 45 percent. Ground-based firefighters and aircraft will continue to knock down interior heat today.

Sterling Creek
Located 7 miles south of Jacksonville, this fire is estimated at about 100 acres. The fire is 30 percent contained. Ground forces and aircraft will continue knocking down flames inside the perimeter of the fire today.

Trail Creek and Elk Creek Drainage
Multiple fires are burning in the area surrounding Cleveland Ridge, Elk Creek and the Trail Creek area, which is roughly 5.5 miles north to northwest of Shady Cove. There are about 10 confirmed fires on ODF-protected land within the drainage, the largest of which is estimated at 20 acres. Several fires within the drainage were lined on Monday, including an 18-acre fire. Several of the fires are one acre or less in size. Overall the fires are 50 percent contained. Crews will continue to attack any remaining active fires today. No structures are threatened.

 

Silver Creek Fire now 100 percent lined with no new growth expected


Above: Smoke rises from the Silver Creek Fire. The heavily
forested location away from roads and trails has made
firefighters job more difficult. Despite that, firefighters
were able to completely encircle the fire.
SILVER FALLS STATE PARK, Ore. - Firefighters continue making good progress on the Silver Creek Fire, with about 125 remaining to mop up over the next several days..

The fire, which is in a remote southeast part of Silver Falls State Park, is mapped at 27 acres. No further growth is expected. Firefighters have succeeded in building control lines completely around the fire, which is now 55 percent contained.

Investigators have officially determined the cause of the Silver Creek Fire was lightning, most likely from a storm that passed over the area on June 18. Known as a lightning holdover, the fire smoldered for several weeks before emerging during a windy period with high temperatures, low relative humidity and drier fuels on the ground.

While Howard Creek horse camp, the 214 Trailhead and several back-country trails remain closed, the Ranches have reopened and there are no interruptions to scheduled events. Waterfall areas remain accessible to visitors during normal park hours. Visitors may notice light smoke at times, but the fire is not anticipated to produce heavy smoke.

For the next several days crews will continue mopping up around the fire perimeter. This involves working from the fire's edge into the fire's interior, ensuring all heat has been extinguished. Mop-up is especially challenging on this fire because of thick brush, a heavy layer of duff and dangerous snags. Firefighters have been carefully removing large snags around the fire's perimeter. Night crews have used infrared cameras to help identify hot spots. Fire managers anticipate maintaining current staffing levels for the next several days to continue this work and secure the fire area. No injuries or fatalities have been reported over the course of the fire.

Photos and videos from July 14-15 remain available online at
https://drive.google.com/open?id=19RlLpHp3XPlNq0d-H8ZBz7SqEvDUG3Yy.
ODF recently received the following note of thanks from people whose home was threatened by the Memaloose Fire.

NOTE: The Memaloose Fire broke out July 6, 2018 near the rest stop about 10 miles east of Hood River in the Central Oregon District's The Dalles unit. ODF firefighters and agencies throughout the Columbia River Gorge responded to the fire. The fast-moving blaze eventually grew to 74 acres and prompted evacuation orders of nearby residents before being stopped by ground and aerial forces.

Please share the following letter of thanks with any and all people who assisted with the Memaloose Fire.  Our home was the one closest to being lost, but was saved by the hard work of all involved.  This letter has been sent to both The Dalles and Hood River papers for publication.  **We got to meet some of the ODF crew, who were just outstanding people!  Thanks!

Anyone who has had their property saved from fire must feel as we do---that there are no words strong enough to express our gratitude, our thanks, and our overwhelming sense of relief.  When told to evacuate, one feels completely helpless …the world is coming to an end.   And when things turn out well, again one feels amazement.  The firefighters have performed a miracle.   Saving Oregon… field, forest, homes, people, businesses cannot be over estimated.

The firefighters who defeated the recent Memaloose Fire (July 6-14) deserve praise not just from residents in the area,  but from everyone.  Controlling wind and flame seems an impossible task.  Success results from unrelenting effort, physical endurance, and complete dedication.  It comes from working on the ground all night and all day, from cooperation with planes dropping retardant, and helicopters  taking up water from the river and dropping it where most needed.   And the vigil and perseverance of the fighters on the ground, the working, the checking, the watching… this persistence continues for many days even after people return to homes. 

Firefighters work for results, for satisfaction, not for praise. But we hope they know the debt we owe them, how much we value them, and that we laud them, extol them every day of our lives.   
 
Thanks to the many agencies who responded, the pilots and crew of planes and helicopters, the men and women firefighters on the ground and all the support staff.   The land is now charred, but our homes were saved and we will watch the land turn brilliant green again in spring.

Nancy Matthisen

Colin and Jean Zylka

Besides ODF, responders to the Memaloose Fire included Wasco County Sheriff, Hood River County Sheriff, Hood River County's Immediate Needs Task Force, Klickitat County (Washington) Rural Fire Department Engine Strike Team, fire departments from Wasco and Sherman counties, Mosier Fire Department, Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon State Police, Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon Travel Experience, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, U.S. Forest Service, and Washington Department of Natural Resources.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Firefighters are working in high heat to put out dozens of lightning fires in So. Oregon

MEDFORD, Ore. - Firefighters across Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath and Lake counties are battling dozens of wildfires in the wake of Sunday's lightning storm across southern and south-central Oregon.

The outbreak has pushed the cumulative number of fires on lands protected by ODF to 429 so far this year, well above the 10-year average of 321. Total acres burned - an estimated 5,000 acres - are still in line with the 10-year average of 5,155 acres.

ODF's Southwest Oregon District reported approximately 1,000 lightning strikes during the storm. About 55 new fires have been reported in that district, with planes continuing to scout for the tell-tale smoke of new ignitions.

The district has grouped the fires into two complexes:

Garner Complex in Josephine County

Spencer Creek # 3: Highly visible from Grants Pass and the Illinois Valley, this fire is 12 miles south of Grants Pass. Estimated at 10 acres, no structures are threatened by the fire which is being fought by both ground and aerial resources.
 
Swamp Creek: 16 miles north of the town of Rogue River. Estimated at 3 acres. Ground and aerial resources engaged. No structures are threatened.
 
Little Grayback: 8 miles east of Cave Junction. Estimated at 2 acres. Several ground resources engaged, securing the perimeter. Smoke will be present. No structures are threatened.

Wagner Creek Complex in Jackson County

Wagner Creek Area: ODF is not engaged with this wildfire because it is on U.S. Forest Service land in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. The fire is highly visible from I-5.

Green Top Mountain: 5 miles northeast of Eagle Point, this fire is estimated at 125 acres. This morning roughly 90% of the perimeter control line was complete and the fire was 5% contained.

Sterling Creek: Estimated at 100 acres, this fire is 7 miles south of Jacksonville but no structures are threatened. About 55% of the perimeter control line is complete and the fire is 5% contained. There was a roughly 4-acre spot fire this morning that has already been knocked down. Ground and aerial resources are engaged.

Trail Creek and Elk Creek drainages: Multiple fires are burning in the area surrounding Cleveland Ridge, Elk Creek and the Trail Creek area, which is roughly 5.5 miles north to northwest of Shady Cove. The largest fire in the area is estimated at 10 acres. Ground and aerial resources are engaged . No structures are threatened.

Douglas County Fires
The Douglas Forest Protective Association responded to five fires reported on Sunday in Douglas County. All but one were kept to less than an acre. The fifth - the Canyon Creek Fire four miles south of Canyonville - has proved more difficult to contain because of steep terrain and heavy fuels. About 30 firefighters a dozer and two helicopters worked on Sunday to install hose lays around the fire, and cool the perimeter, with work continuing Monday.


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

National weather forecasters are predicting the summer of 2018 will see above average temperatures and below average rainfall. Drought has already been declared in a number of counties in eastern and southern Oregon, with northwest Oregon also unusually dry for June. These conditions set the stage for potentially large, fast-moving wildfires.

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. In total there are about 30.4 million 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. While suppressing large fires can cost millions of dollars, economic and environmental damage from wildfires can be many times greater.

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About Me

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