Current situation

Fires in the Garner Complex in Josephine County have burned close to a 1,000 acres since Sunday. ODF Incident Management Team 2 has taken command of the Complex to allow the Southwest Oregon District to focus on dozens of other lightning-sparked wildfires. While temperatures in many parts of Oregon won't be quite as hot today, conditions are drier than normal for this time of year. The U.S. Drought Monitor reports that 99% of Oregonians live in areas that are abnormally dry or in moderate drought, with southeast Oregon already in severe drought.

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

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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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

National weather forecasters are predicting the summer of 2018 will see above average temperatures and below average rainfall. Drought has already been declared in a number of counties in eastern and southern Oregon, with northwest Oregon also unusually dry for June. These conditions set the stage for potentially large, fast-moving wildfires.

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.