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.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Private forest landowners - a major partner in forest fire prevention

The Ridge Road fire near Timber on Sunday was an early season reminder that Oregon's forest fire season is on the way.

As Oregon approaches summer forest fire season, public firefighting agencies across the state are training and preparing personnel, getting equipment ready and planning for emergency response scenarios. But in addition to federal, state, regional and interagency fire resources, the private landowners of Oregon are a vital partner in preventing devastating forest fires.

About 35 percent of Oregon’s forests, roughly 10.7 million acres, are privately owned. Industrial timber owners manage 6 million acres while 4.7 million acres of forest are owned by families or small-tract woodland owners.

Private forest owners – the first line of fire defense

Oregon law requires forest landowners and those who work in the forest to control and extinguish wildfires that occur on their land. If that isn’t possible, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) or a regional forest protective association must respond and extinguish the fire.

Forestland owners pay a forest patrol fee, part of their annual property tax statement, to meet basic forest firefighting requirements. During 2011, ODF crews responded to almost 700 fires across the state, covering just over 2,637 acres. Most fires were stopped at just a few acres, - before they became large, costly incidents that threatened communities or made the news thanks to the swift initial attack response of firefighters and private landowners.

Owners of large forest holdings and small woodlands – as well as people who enjoy a home in a forested setting – all have responsibilities as fire season approaches. Here are some things to think about during this period:

Check your fire equipment.

Acquire basic forest firefighting equipment suitable to your circumstances, and ensure that it is in good working order. Your local fire protection district will have additional guidance specific to your region of the state, including fire suppression factors for your unique land conditions (for example, terrain, fire characteristics, rules based on land ownership, etc).

Create defensible space around structures and homes on your property.

Remove overgrown or dead vegetation at least 30 feet from structures to reduce the potential of a forest fire spreading to a building.

Make sure the spark arrestor screens on power saws are in good shape.

Even if you are using a chain saw in the woods for personal uses, fire prevention rules still apply in Oregon’s forests.

Have your fire extinguishers recharged and inspected.

Keep a working, charged fire extinguisher with each vehicle, and keep an extinguisher on board power equipment such as riding lawn mowers and weed cutters while they’re in operation.

Have an emergency water source for fire suppression and pumps available.

If it’s feasible, consider building a pond to provide a water supply for pumps. Deeper large ponds in flat, clear areas free of overhead obstructions can also be accessed by helicopters for water dips to assist aerial attack on fires.

Construct and maintain fire breaks along public roads that adjoin or pass through your property. Reduce the amount of vegetation that could catch fire – or block an emergency vehicle from entering your property.

Operate equipment in your forest in compliance with fire regulations that apply to your region.
Get familiar with both the Restricted Use Closure (RUC) and Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) systems used for fire prevention in Oregon’s forests. Additional information about RUC and IFPL are available on the Oregon Department of Forestry website at:

Use the same fire precautions at your forest home as you do in the forest.

If an IFPL 3 condition has logging operations in your area shut down from noon to 8pm due to high potential for fire, please don’t mow your tinder-dry lawn or burn yard trimmings.

Understand the fire triangle that increases forest fire potential – high heat, low humidity and strong winds. These three natural forces converge to create a higher risk for forest fires.

If you see a fire in Oregon’s forests, call 9-1-1 immediately.
For additional information about forest fire safety, fire prevention and forest management, visit, You’ll find information on contacting the department’s offices in your part of the state at

Thanks in advance for your help in protecting public safety, property and Oregon’s forests.

ODF Public Affairs Office

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Have a question/comment about this season's wildfire activity on the 16 million acres of private and public forestlands that the Oregon Dept. of Forestry protects from wildfire? Let us know. Please keep your remarks civil and free of profanity.

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.