Cooler temperatures and higher humidity with light rainfall this past weekend in many areas of the state have helped firefighting efforts. Lightning is less of a concern this week but humans causing new fires remains a top concern. Gov. Kate Brown announced over the weekend that she is authorizing Oregon National Guard personnel to help fire suppression efforts near Crater Lake National Park.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Oregon Dept. of Forestry fire update - July 31 afternoon

This is an Oregon Dept. of Forestry (ODF) fire update for the afternoon of July 31, 2013.

FIRES ON OREGON DEPT. OF FORESTRY-PROTECTED LANDS
The 21,400-acre, lightning-caused Douglas Complex fires are burning seven miles north of Glendale in Douglas County, and are 5 percent contained.

The Douglas Complex is now the highest priority nationally for resources.

Late Saturday evening Governor Kitzhaber declared the Douglas County Complex a conflagration. The declaration authorized the State Fire Marshal to mobilize structural firefighters and equipment to assist local resources battling the fire and working to protect structures. More than 400 homes are threatened. The Oregon Office of the State Fire Marshal is managing the fire jointly with Oregon Department of Forestry.

Oregon National Guard air and ground resources are being mobilized to the Douglas Complex today.

Douglas Complex Special Message: Evacuations are still in effect for Reuben Road, Mt. Reuben Road and McCullough Creek Road in Douglas County. Josephine County is also continuing evacuations for Poorman Creek, Lower Graves Creek Road, Graves Creek Road, and Lower Wolf Creek. The Governor has declared a State of Emergency for Josephine and Douglas Counties.

Douglas Complex Current Situation: The Douglas Complex has added a fourth branch to the complex.
The Complex currently consists of Milo, on the east side of Interstate 5; Rabbit Mountain, on the west side of Interstate 5 northwest of Glendale; Dad’s Creek, west of Glendale, and the Farmer’s Fire south of Glendale.

ODF Incident Management Team 2 (IC’s: Dennis Sifford, ODF, John Ingrao, State Fire Marshal Office) are managing the Douglas Complex. Firefighters are contending with hazards including falling boulders and trees and old mine shafts, which are affecting access into some of the fire area. Values at risk include homes, commercial timberland, and critical wildlife habitat. There are no reports of homes burned. Two minor injuries have been reported. Two outbuildings have been destroyed.
The incident command post is located at the Glendale High School in the community of Glendale.

Milo
Milo Branch is a group of smaller fires, all less than 20 acres in size. Firefighters are patrolling these fires today. No further control problems are expected on these fires.

Rabbit Mountain
Near Middle Creek, firefighters continue to make progress on line construction as well as setting up hoses and water for use in extinguishing heat along the fire line. Spread of the fire was slowed by the cooler temperatures and increased humidity yesterday.

Dad’s Creek
The south end of the fire continues to burn actively near Grave Creek; however, growth has slowed with the increased humidity and cooler temperatures. Overnight, on Dad’s Creek Fire, structure protection resources assigned in the Cow Creek Road area and Rattlesnake Road area made good progress helping Oregon Department of Forestry crews prepare the area for burn out operations that are expected to take place in the next 24-36 hours. The structure protection task forces assigned to that division reported good results with continued active fire behavior.

In Josephine County, overhead personnel spent a large part of the day accessing the area and reported challenging terrain, limited access, and active fire conditions. Approximately 30 homes are being threatened in the Grave Creek, Poorman Creek, and Lower Wolf Creek areas. Personnel will continue reconnaissance in these areas to get an accurate count of the number of structures threatened and formulate structure protection plans.

The fire is expected to burn actively again in the afternoon when temperature increases and winds start to affect fire movement. Smoke and erratic winds may impact air operations. Areas around Glendale will continue to see more smoke in the area.

Farmer’s Fire
Has been burning for several days in the Grants Pass Unit (ODF) has become part of the Complex. This fire is approximately 200-400 acres.

Weather: A Red Flag warning has been issued for the area. The warning indicates an increased risk of fire potential. This warning is based on high fire activity in the area and the dry fuel conditions. The threat of dry lightning and thunderstorms continues through Wednesday, with a chance for rain as the storm progresses. A drying trend is forecast for the weekend.

Evacuations and Closures:

• Cow Creek Road from Riddle into the fire area and from Glendale into the fire has been closed. The public is asked to honor the road blocks and not interfere with firefighters working in the area.
• Evacuations have been ordered for McCullough Creek Road, Reuben Road, and Mt. Reuben Road in Douglas County, and Poorman Creek Road, Lower Grave Creek, Grave Creek, and Lower Wolf Creek in Josephine County.
• An additional three hundred sixty five residences are considered threatened. This means evacuations could be necessary at some point in the future. Any official evacuation orders would be issued by the Douglas County or Josephine County Sheriff’s Offices.

Fire Information Meetings: A public meeting is planned in Wolf Creek for Thursday night, August 1, at 6:00 pm at the Community Center.

Public Safety/Prevention: Due to winds transitioning from the northwest and inversions setting in at night, thick smoke from the Dad’s Creek fire is settling into Glendale during the morning hours. To address any concern as a result of smoke in the area, an air quality sensor has been installed in Glendale. Go to www.oregonsmoke.blogspot.com to track air quality measurements.

Douglas Forest Protective Association has increased prevention restrictions to IFPL 3, where a 1 p.m. shutdown is in effect. Public restrictions are also in place. Check www.dfpa.net before commencing your activities.

Resources Include: 41 Type 2 hand crews, 86 engines, 15 dozers, 27 water tenders, 3 Type 1 helicopters, 6 Type 2 helicopters, and 2 Type 3 helicopters
and overhead personnel. There are 1,387 personnel assigned to this fire.

The Brimstone Fire is 1,600 acres and burning in Josephine County northwest of Grants Pass, 10 miles Northwest of Merlin, Oregon. The fire is 10 percent contained and burning in old growth, logging slash and mixed hardwood conifer stands in steep terrain with rolling debris and falling snags. There is limited visibility and lack of aircraft support due to smoke inversion from the Douglas Complex. ODF’s Incident Management Team 3 has been assigned to this fire.

The fire made no significant movement late Tuesday or overnight. Crews coming in from night shift said planned fireline improvement on the north and southeast corners was completed, and burnouts in those same areas were successful. There is a low risk of structures burning in this time period.

Resources and strategy
There are 773 personnel and firefighters assigned to the Brimstone Fire's suppression effort. Specifically, 29 crews, 26 wildland fire engines, seven bulldozers and nine water tenders are divided between the day and night shifts.The weather has been calm and this has helped reduce fire activity. However, the heavy smoke layer has made it impossible to use helicopters on the fire.

The current strategy is to strengthen control lines and completely encircle the fire using additional fire hoses and tenders to provide water for hot spots. As a contingency, a secondary fire line was created through a connecting network of newly opened roads and established roads. While fire officials were generally pleased with progress made early Wednesday morning, extreme fire conditions still threaten control lines. Air attack is hampered by heavy smoke and the fire team is preparing for increased winds that could affect fire behavior and pose hazardous conditions for firefighters.

No evacuations have been announced for residential areas around the fire area, but structural fire protection personnel have assessed homes should an evacuation become necessary. To find out more about evacuation planning, call the Josephine County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at (541) 474-5305.

Firefighters ask that the public not use roads in the Upper Quartz Creek Rd and Hogs Creek Rd areas because these roads are narrow and are being heavily used by fire engines, trucks hauling water, and bulldozers.

Information about the Brimstone Fire can be learned by calling (541) 479-3842.

Information about other fires in southwest Oregon can be had by calling the Joint Information Center (JIC) at (541) 471-6620.

Big Windy Complex is lightning-caused and is now estimated at 2,914 acres. The Complex consists of the Big Windy (Josephine County), Calvert Peak and Jenny Fires (Curry County) and is located on Medford District, Bureau of Land Management lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry. It is 0 percent contained.

Location is approximately 8 miles northwest of Galice; the north part of the fire is within two miles of Winkel Bar on the Rogue River. Pacific NW IMT2 assumed command yesterday. Weather: A Red Flag warning was issued at midnight and extends to 2 pm today.

News & Highlights: The BLM portion of the Wild Section of the Rogue River is closed from Graves Creek to Mule Creek effective today due to extreme fire conditions, and public health and safety issues. Also, the Medford District of the Bureau of Land Management has given official notice that the Rogue River Trail from Grave Creek to the Rogue River Ranch is temporarily closed. All entry is restricted in order to protect the public during fire suppression operations.

Additionally, watercraft will be launched from the Graves Creek put-in to deliver supplies to crews working to provide structure protection for Black Bar Lodge, Zane Grey Cabin and the Rogue River Ranch. As visibility allows, helicopters will assist with the transfer of supplies from ground transport to the boats at Graves Creek.

Cooperating agencies & partners: Oregon Department of Forestry, Medford District Bureau of Land Management, Josephine County, Curry County, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

The Rawhide 2 Fire in Eastern Oregon was reported Saturday burning in grass and timber approximately 7 miles east of Elgin. The 30-acre fire is 90 percent contained.

The Ferguson Mountain Fire in Eastern Oregon, Lake Unit, was reported Sunday; this 15-acre fire is now 100 percent lined and is 98 percent mopped up.

The 503-acre Davis Creek Fire burning in the John Day Unit of the Central Oregon District is 100 percent contained. The fire was burning in grass and timber fuels. There are still hot spots and the fire is in patrol status. Cause is under investigation.


FIRES BURNING ON OTHER LANDS
The 3,080-acre, lightning-caused Whiskey Complex fire burning in timber six miles east of Tiller on the Tiller Ranger District of the Umpqua National Forest is 10 percent contained. The Complex consists of 4 fires, they are the Whisky Fire (2,250 acres), the Big Brother Fire (250 acres), the Buckeye Fire (550 acres) and the Smith Ridge Fire (30 acres). Continued dry weather is forecast. The incident is being managed by a unified command: Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team and the Douglas Forest Protective Association. For more information go to: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3562/

The 1,750-acre lightning-caused Labrador Fire is burning in an area south and west of the Illinois River in inaccessible country approximately 30 miles southwest of Grants Pass, Oregon. Fire behavior yesterday continued to be moderated by smoke over the area. Suppression efforts are aimed at allowing the fire to slowly back down to the Illinois River on the south and east edges.

Suppression efforts are hampered by steep terrain and little road access, fire crews are also dealing with significant poison oak issues. Crews are continuing structural protection in Oak Flat and on private lands, and indirect fire line preparation. The structure protection at Oak Flat in Josephine County is nearly complete and fire fighters remain spike camped in the area in case they are needed. A public meeting will be held at the Josephine County building at 102 South Redwood Highway in Cave Junction at 7 pm Thursday, August 1. Information will be shred along with maps and presentations by fire managers.

Continued limited use of aircraft due to smoke over the fire, aviation resources being made available to other fires and will be re-engaged when smoke clears. Trail and road closures are in place. For more information go to: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3563/

The 108-acre Browns Creek Fire burning 17 miles northwest of Gilchrist near Browns Creek on Wickiup Reservoir is 100 percent contained. All campgrounds are now open and Forest Road 42 was opened last night.

FIRE STATISTICS
Fire statistics are for the current year and the average over the past 10 years for the 16 million acres of private and public forestland protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

January 1, 2013, through today:*
Lightning-caused fires: 93 fires burned 722 acres
Human-caused fires: 417 fires burned 2,471 acres
Total: 510 fires burned 3,193 acres

10-year average (Jan. 1 through the present date in the year):
Lightning-caused fires: 113 fires burned 5,386 acres
Human-caused fires: 338 fires burned 1,415 acres
Total: 451 fires burned 6,801 acres

Fire statistics can be accessed any time from the ODF website.

*Note: When personnel are heavily engaged in firefighting activities, the latest information may not always appear in the statistics.

NEWS MEDIA
News media may call the Fire Information Duty Officer pager, 503-370-0403, 24/7 for fire information. The duty officer will call back promptly. Media may also call the Oregon Department of Forestry headquarters office, 503-945-7200, weekdays during business hours.

OTHER FIRE INFORMATION
For information on wildfires on all jurisdictions in Oregon, go to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center website, or the national Incident Information System site.

ODF maintains a blog that includes breaking news on wildfires statewide, along with current fire statistics. The Southwest Oregon District maintains a blog with wildfire info specific to the region. In addition, the district provides a Twitter feed on fires as they occur.

ABOUT THIS UPDATE
This update focuses primarily on firefighting activity on Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands involving fires 10 acres or larger in size or of other significance. It also reports on ODF’s actions as a partner in fighting major fires that start on lands protected by other agencies.

ODF is responsible for fire protection on private and state-owned forestland, and on a limited amount of other forestlands, including those owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in western Oregon. Because fires may cross ownerships, and because of the need to share firefighting resources, agencies work closely together.

OTHER LINKS
Safety Tips

Fire weather

Wildfire smoke forecasts

Wildfire smoke and air quality

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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. There are about 30.4 million total 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.