Current situation

Check with your local district or forest protection association for restrictions or use ODF's fire restrictions and closures webpage for the latest details at

Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day plans could include fire prevention

Have any plans for the Memorial Day weekend? How about getting your home and property ready for Oregon’s summer fire season by taking steps now to create a zone that can stop the spread of destructive wildfire.

An increasing percentage of Oregon’s residents are living in less urbanized areas or residential areas that include forests, seeking opportunities to enjoy trees and natural beauty right outside their door. However, the risk of being affected by wildfire can also increase.

You can significantly reduce your risk of wildfire in just a few hours. Prepare your home to be wildfire-resistant by focusing on your home ignition zone. In the first 30 feet around your home, create a fire-resistant zone to help reduce the spread of wildfire and protect your property.

ODF urges homeowners to take these simple steps to protect your home and reduce your risk of losing your home to a rapidly moving wildland fire:

• Define your defensible space - 30 feet away from your home.

• Reduce flammable brush around your home and under nearby trees.

• Prune or remove trees.

• Keep grass and weeds cut low.

• Clear wood piles and building materials away from your home.

• Keep your yard and roof clean.

• Keep address signs visible.

• Choose fire-resistant building materials and lawn furniture.

• Recycle yard debris – avoid burning.

• Be prepared to respond to wildfire.

Many more ideas are available on the FireWise website, and more information about wildfire protection is available on the Oregon Department of Forestry website.

Kevin Weeks
ODF Agency Affairs Office

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pioneer Village earns National Recognition for Wildfire Preparedness

Philomath, OR -- Because of its efforts to reduce the vulnerability of homes and landscapes to wildfire, Pioneer Village has earned Firewise Communities/USA® recognition from the National Firewise Communities Program.

"Firewise Communities/USA recognition acknowledges the hard work the residents of Pioneer Village have already done and provides direction and support as we set our course for the future,” said Pioneer Village Homeowners Association Board President Jack Rundel.

Pioneer Village worked with Blake McKinley, Community Wildfire Forester with the Oregon Department of Forestry, to conduct a wildfire hazard assessment and develop a plan to address safety concerns. Residents then worked together to implement the plan.

”Pioneer Village should be commended for taking responsibility to address wildfire safety concerns and helping to make their community more survivable when a wildfire occurs,” said McKinley. “Pioneer Village will be an example to other high-risk communities in the wildland urban interface where houses meet the forest.”

Philomath Fire & Rescue Chief Tom Phelps and Benton County were both contributors to the Firewise effort.

Rundel said Pioneer Village has benefited greatly from local partnerships including Philomath Fire and Rescue, Benton County Community Development and the Department of Forestry.

“The Firewise recognition now allows us to tap into resources and connect with peer communities on a regional and national level,” he noted.

Pioneer Village is the ninth community in Oregon to be recognized as Firewise Communities/USA, and the first in ODF’s West Oregon District, which includes Benton, Polk, and Lincoln Counties. This community joins many others nationwide that have been recognized since the program’s inception in 2002.

To receive Firewise Communities/USA recognition, Pioneer Village met a rigorous set of requirements. The community completed the following activities:

• Completed a local Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

• Conducted road right-of-way clearing projects to open up and widen the available road widths within the community.

• Created and distributed surveys to determine the Wildfire Hazard Rating and action items for the community.

• Worked with local fire and forestry agencies to remove flammable vegetation from around their homes and other neighborhood structures.

• Conducted numerous community meetings and informational events to explain and educate the community about the Firewise Communities plan and distribute Firewise information.

“Achieving Firewise recognition is not a quick or easy process. Pioneer Village has done an outstanding job of creating a local Firewise Task Force and implementing Firewise principles,” said Michele Steinberg, support manager of the Firewise Communities program. “By preparing homes, structures, and landscapes before a wildfire occurs, Pioneer Village has dramatically increased the chance that homes and structures will be protected when a wildfire occurs.”

Working through the National Association of State Foresters (NASF), the Oregon Department of Forestry supports the Firewise Communities/USA recognition effort. The program is a nationwide initiative that recognizes communities for taking action to protect people and properties from the risk of fire in the wildland/urban interface. This program is of special interest to small communities and neighborhood associations that are willing to reduce vulnerability to wildfire by adopting and implementing programs tailored to their needs. The communities create the programs themselves with cooperative assistance from state forestry agencies and local fire staff.

Fire-prone communities can work with local professionals to earn Firewise Communities/USA status by meeting the following criteria:

• Enlist a wildland/urban interface specialist to complete a community assessment and create a plan that identifies agreed-upon achievable solutions to be implemented by the community.

• Sponsor a local Firewise Task Force Committee, Commission or Department, which maintains the Firewise Communities/USA program and tracks its progress or status.

• Observe a Firewise Communities/USA Day annually, dedicated to a local Firewise project.

• Invest a minimum of $2 per capita annually in local Firewise projects. (Work by municipal employees or volunteers using municipal and other equipment can be included, as can state/federal grants dedicated to that purpose.)

• Submit an annual report to Firewise Communities/USA that documents continuing compliance with the program.

Communities interested in earning recognition may visit for more information.

Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program is part of the National Fire Protection Association, 1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02169. For more information visit .


Kristin Babbs
Oregon Firewise State Liaison - 503-945-7444

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fire Season 2011: Slow train coming

Wildfire experts have forecast a late start to the fire season of possibly three weeks to a month. But whenever fire activity picks up, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) will be ready. ODF enters the season with all of the moving parts in place: a full complement of fire engines, fire hand crews, helicopters and heavy air tankers, as well as three specially trained teams on call to manage large wildfires.
Oregon has more than 30 million acres of forest. Wildland fire protection across such an expanse is too big of a challenge for a single agency or department to take on alone.

While the Oregon Department of Forestry, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, rural fire departments and other state, local and federal fire agencies have their respective jurisdictions, cooperation is second nature. A longstanding “closest-forces” agreement provides for rapid initial attack on new fires by whichever agency’s firefighting resources can get there the fastest. Billings and reimbursements are sorted out later.

Urban sprawl into forested areas has also brought structural fire departments into the mix. As in years past, ODF's wildland fire incident management teams held their annual pre-season training conference this spring in conjunction with the State Fire Marshal's structural teams. Since they are likely to meet on wildfires that threaten communities, the teams train together to attain seamless coordination in the field.

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 about current wildfires. Please keep your posts civil and free of profanity.

Current wildfire info

National weather forecasters predictions that Oregon would see above average temperatures and below average rainfall in the summer of 2018 proved true. Almost all of Oregon was abnormally dry this summer, with a majority of the state in moderate to severe drought. Many areas posted record high temperatures or record strings of hot days. 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.


About Me

My photo
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.