Current situation

Lightning mainly east of the Cascade crest is a concern through mid-week as it is a key source of new wildfire starts, often in remote and difficult terrain. Firefighters are still battling many large existing fires across Oregon, most of them started by earlier lightning storms.








Wednesday, September 7, 2011

State forester urges caution with fire during hot weather

With wildfire danger at the highest levels of the summer and likely to rise further in the coming days, Oregon’s state forester Wednesday urged Oregonians to use utmost care in preventing fires.

“We have high heat, low humidity, and lightning in the forecast – a very dangerous combination,” State Forester Doug Decker said. “We always hope people are careful with fire in the woods. But if there were ever a time for being extra vigilant, it is now.”

Fire danger is high or extreme across most of the state – in the drier eastern and interior southwestern regions, as well as in the Coast Range and the Willamette Valley.

Lightning storms forecast for the end of the week could start many new fires, at a time when water-dropping helicopters and other firefighting resources are already stretched thin.

“We can’t prevent the fires that lightning leaves behind,” Decker said. “But every fire caused by human carelessness pulls away resources that could otherwise be used against those lightning fires.”

In addition, human-caused fires are more likely to occur near communities, where they may threaten homes and other structures, making firefighting more complex and costly.

The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) provides fire protection on 16 million acres, mostly privately owned, but also including state-owned forests and contracted protection of U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands in western Oregon. With fire protection responsibility for about 52 percent of Oregon’s forests, ODF is the state’s largest fire department.

About 95 percent of fires on ODF-protected lands are extinguished while still small. But just a few fires that grow large can cause great damage to natural resources, property and infrastructure, along with high suppression costs and disruption of travel, business and recreation.

So far in the 2011 fire season, 75 percent of the fires ODF resources have responded to are human-caused. A cause of concern is also a sharp increase in the acreage of land affected by human-caused fires; in 2011 thus far, more than 1,400 acres of ODF-protected lands have burned in compared to 418 acres by this same time last year.

Campfires, smoking, off-road driving and industrial activities such as logging are currently restricted on many ODF-protected lands.

Abandoned campfires and driving vehicles in tall grass have been among the causes of fires in recent days. Where campfires are allowed, they must be fully extinguished – by soaking with water, stirring, and soaking again – when campers leave.

Additional information about wildfire prevention is available from Keep Oregon Green, through the association’s website at: http://www.keeporegongreen.org/

“This is about protecting life and property, and about being good stewards of Oregon’s forests,” Decker said. “We’re asking for everyone’s cooperation and care in the woods during this critical time.”

On the web:

ODF Wildfire Blog -- wildfireoregondeptofforestry.blogspot.com

Oregon Department of Forestry – www.oregon.gov/ODF

Current public use or industrial precaution information -- www.oregon.gov/ODF/FIRE/precautionlevel.shtml

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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

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.



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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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.