Current situation

Winter and spring see lots of controlled burns in Oregon to eliminate piles of woody debris left over after logging or thinning. Embers buried in the ashes of these pile burns can sometimes reignite even days after a fire appears to be out, especially if winds blow away ashy debris. The same winds can then fan smoldering embers back to life. That's why it's a good idea to keep checking old pile burns to ensure no hot spots have rekindled.

Monday, October 24, 2011

2011 fire season ends Oct. 24

Fire season 2011 ended statewide today, when the last Oregon Department of Forestry district remaining in season, Northeast Oregon District, announced its closure.

The season started out slow with a cool, wet spring that delayed the onset of fire activity several weeks. By mid-July when Oregon’s fire season typically hits full stride, 144 fires had burned just 136 acres on the lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) – low numbers compared to the running 10-year average of 388 fires burning nearly 13,000 acres. ODF protects a total of 16 million acres of private and public lands from fire.

By the middle of August, the summer weather pattern had finally set in. But the statistics - 279 fires burning 244 acres – still lagged behind the 10-year mark for that point in the year: 699 fires burning nearly 23,000 acres.

Dry lightning, the cause of most large Oregon wildfires, remained relatively light through mid-summer. Then on Aug. 25 – late in the season for intense thunderstorm activity – an onslaught of 8,500 strikes ignited numerous fires. Aggressive response by firefighters stopped most of the lightning starts on ODF-protected lands, and none of them grew into large fires.

In summary, the generally favorable weather, lack of drought conditions, higher live-fuel moistures across the state (which limited rapid fire growth), pre-staging of key firefighting resources, and an aggressive initial-attack approach led to a successful fire season for ODF, its partner agencies and Oregon’s forest landowners.

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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:

Current wildfire info

Cool, wet weather in the winter of 2016-17 ended Oregon's long drought and left a thick mountain snowpack. It didn't take long for that to melt and vegetation to dry out due to a series of heatwaves and a prolonged stretch of dry weather over the summer. As forest fuels dried, fires started and spread, many from lands adjacent to those protected by ODF, such as the Chetco Bar Fire in Curry County. That one fire accounted for 46% of the 47,537 acres of land protected by ODF which burned in 2017. Of fires originating on ODF-protected land, 95% were put out at less than 10 acres.

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

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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.