Current situation

With fire season ended, most burning in Oregon forestland in the late fall consists of controlled burns to eliminate piles of woody debris left over after logging or thinning. The timing of such burns is carefully regulated to minimize the chance of smoke entering heavily populated areas.

Monday, July 1, 2013

State Forester Doug Decker on the firefighting tragedy in Arizona

[Following is an excerpt from a message Oregon State Forester Doug Decker sent to Oregon Dept. of Forestry employees on July 1 regarding the recent tragedy in Arizona.]

By the nature of the profession, firefighters work side by side.

Today—side by side—we share our sorrow at yesterday’s loss of 19 firefighters, 18 of them members of a Hotshot crew, on Central Arizona’s Yarnell Hill Fire. This is one of the greatest tragedies in the history of wildland firefighting.

On behalf of the Department and Oregon’s broader wildland firefighting community, I have extended our thoughts and prayers to the families, co-workers and friends of these firefighters. Yesterday evening, I also offered Oregon’s ready support to Arizona State Forester Scott Hunt.

It will take time to establish exactly what led to this tragedy. This is a loud and clear statement that firefighting is serious business with the very highest of stakes. Protecting people, resources and property often means going into harm’s way. As we do this, we must keep safety and vigilance paramount.

These reminders are exactly on point for us at this moment. Our permanent and seasonal workforce is trained, in place, and putting out fires on a daily basis. Our Incident Management Team 1 is on assignment in Alaska, and several others of our staff are in Colorado and Arizona. The indicators point to a more-than-typically severe fire season in the West.

As the summer goes on, we, too, will encounter the most challenging of conditions: lightning, unpredictable winds, heavy fuels, and other conditions that demand our utmost attention to safety.

More broadly, we are in an era when weather and forest health conditions across much of the West suggest many challenging fire seasons ahead. However that future plays out, when all is done, our No. 1 priority is for everyone to return home safely.

There will be much more to come, as investigators sort through yesterday’s events, as memorial ceremonies are organized, and as the Yarnell Hill fire, which has destroyed a number of homes, continues to challenge firefighters.

Our fire protection work is vital to public health and safety, and to the protection of natural resources. It is widely appreciated. As you go about this difficult mission, I am counting on you to be safe.

Doug Decker

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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 snowpack at higher elevations which will take some time to melt. However, in the summer of 2017 a series of heatwaves and a prolonged stretch of dry weather created conditions that dried forest fuels, allowing fires to start and spread. The result was more than a thousand fires on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry.Ninety-five percent of these 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.