Lightning is largely absent from Oregon this week. However, warm, dry weather will greet the hundreds of thousands of visitors arriving to see the eclipse of the sun on Aug. 21. Avoiding activities that can spark a wildfire is key to making the eclipse a safe and pleasant experience for all. One measure adopted to reduce the risk of wildfire is a temporary ban, now in effect, on all campfires in state parks





Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Forestry officials warn of extreme fire danger in central Oregon


Wildfire is often in the news in central Oregon at this point in the summer. But so far it has been an afterthought. That is expected to change soon, with the onset of extreme fire conditions that could propel a small fire start into a major incident.

 
Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) officials caution that while the cool, wet weather in spring and early summer delayed the inevitable, fire season has truly arrived in the region.

 
“Conditions in the forests and rangelands of central Oregon are extremely dry,” ODF’s George Ponte said. “An errant cigarette, an unattended campfire or a lightning strike could easily ignite a large fire.”

 
The Central Oregon District Forester said that without any significant precipitation, burning conditions will only worsen over the next several weeks before the fall weather pattern moderates the fire threat somewhat.

 
“We’ve been extremely fortunate so far this season in that we’ve not had any catastrophic fires and we’d like to keep it that way,” he said. “Large fires threaten public and firefighter safety, destroy property and natural resources, and are extremely expensive to suppress, and that hits everybody in the pocketbook.”

 
ODF is asking everyone to be extremely careful while working or recreating outdoors. Given the dry conditions, it would be very easy to accidentally cause a fire.

 
The following restrictions are currently in effect on private and public lands protected by ODF in central Oregon:

  • Smoking is prohibited while traveling in the forest
  • Open fires are prohibited except in designated areas
  • Mowing of dried grass with power equipment is prohibited between hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.
  • The use of timber harvesting or forest fuel-reduction equipment using high-speed rotary heads or flails is prohibited between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.
  • The cutting, grinding, or welding of metal is prohibited between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. When conducting these activities during permissible times, the area must be cleared of flammable vegetation.

More information on restrictions and current conditions is available at: www.oregon.gov/odf/centraloregon or by contacting your local Oregon Department of Forestry office.

 
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George Ponte
Central Oregon District Forester
541-447-5658 ext 231

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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

Cool, wet weather in the winter of 2016-17 ended Oregon's long drought and left a thick snowpack at higher elevations which will take some time to melt. However, even in non-drought years Oregon's warm, dry summers create conditions that allow for fire to start and spread. In an average summer firefighters still see almost a thousand fires on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry.



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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. While suppressing large fires can cost millions of dollars, economic and environmental damage from wildfires can be many times greater.




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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.