Current situation

Gov. Kate Brown focused Oregon's attention on the active wildfire situation in Oregon at a morning news conference in Portland today. ODF's Chief of Fire Protection Doug Grafe and other state agencies shared how they are responding to the wildfire emergency the Gov. declared Wednesday.

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

Monday, August 29, 2011

Released by the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center: Razorback Fire Information; August 29, 2011 @ 7 p.m.

The following information was released by the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center regarding the Razorback Fire (part of the High Cascades Complex) and the Lower Deschutes River


The Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon

Prineville District, Bureau of Land Management


August 29, 2011 @ 7 p.m.

On August 24, 2011 a lightning storm passed through much of Central and Eastern Oregon, putting down more than 8,000 lightning strikes. More than 200 fires were reported on lands protected by the Prineville District, Bureau of Land Management, the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests and the Oregon Department of Forestry. The Warm Springs Indian Reservation also had more than 35 new wildfires reported. Four of these fires on the Reservation have grown larger. One of these fires moved east off of the Reservation and jumped the river at Redside.

On the evening of August 26th, the Razorback Fire jumped the Deschutes River near the community of Dant, and moved onto BLM-administered lands and private land along the east side of the river.

A Type II Incident Management Team (ORCA – Oregon and California) assumed command of the Razorback fire on August 27th at 1800 (6 p.m.).
  • The fire jumped the river at Redside in Segment 1 of the Lower Deschutes River and has moved north and east, covering more than 15 river miles. Fire activity has remained high both along the river and on private and public lands east of the river.
  • By late afternoon August 29th, the area was determined to be unsafe for both the public and firefighters. As of 12:01, August 30, 2011 Segment 1 of the Lower Deschutes River is closed to all use including camping, day use or launching and rafting until further notice. Segment 1 extends from the Warm Springs launch site at River Mile (RM) 97.5 north to Harpham Flat (RM 56).
  • Rafters with boater passes for Segment 1 during the closure will be able to use alternate launch sites in Segment 2. No refunds will be offered.
  • Resources fighting the fire will include a combination of ground and aerial support including helicopters that will be dipping buckets into the river to put water on the fire edge.
  • Highway 26 through Warm Springs and Highway 97 between Hwy 197/97 and Shaniko is closed as of 7 p.m. on August 29, 2011. These closures change frequently so people should monitor ODOT/Tripcheck ( for more information.
How did the fire start?
The fire started on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation on the northeast side of the Reservation from a lightning strike. The fire was minimally staffed for the first two days because Warm Springs Fire Management prioritized suppression efforts on other fires threatening lives and property.

If the fire is on BLM, why is Warm Springs Fire Management in charge?
The “ownership” of fire belongs to the agency or landowner/fire department where the fire started. This fire began on Warm Springs, giving the tribes lead suppression responsibility. The Prineville BLM is helping provide firefighting resources and is also providing a liaison to the Incident Management Team and a resource advisor.

Why can’t we float when helicopters are dipping?
The helicopters carry buckets used for dipping water, which can then be dumped out on hot spots or along the fireline. The larger helicopters carry between 1,000 and 2,600 gallons of water, weighing between 8,000 and 20,000 pounds. If the helicopter has to release the load, the weight of the water falling on a raft can injure or kill anyone getting hit by the water.

What happens to our permit if the river is closed to floating?
If you have a permit for Segment 1 during the closure, you will be allowed to pick an alternate launch site in Segment 2. Information about the closure will be posted on the Boater Pass Website. Boaters and Guides & Outfitters can also call the Maupin Visitor Center at (541) 395-2778 or Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center at (541) 416-6811 to find out when the closure is lifted. No refunds will be offered for permits that are not used due to the fire closure.

Why did the river get closed?
Fire behavior along both sides of the river is creating dangerous conditions for both firefighters and the public. Campsites have been burned over, leaving the potential for stump holes, hot spots and other hazards. Recently burned slopes have rolling rocks, falling trees and other dangers. Aerial resources may also be dipping in the river to help with suppression activities, creating additional hazards for boaters. The primary concern for fire officials is the safety of everyone traveling, rafting or working in the river corridor.


Posted by: Jeri Chase, ODF Incident Information Officer
Fire Duty Officer Pager #503-370-0403

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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.