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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Gov. Kitzhaber commends emergency response to wildfires

Governor Kitzhaber Commends Emergency Response to Wildfires Following Briefing in Southern Oregon
Urges Oregonians to practice basic fire safety

(Glendale, OR) — Governor Kitzhaber today met with local, state, and federal officials and agency representatives, private landowners, and citizens to discuss emergency response to fires burning in Southern Oregon. At a briefing held at the Incident Command Post in Glendale, the Governor heard about inter-agency coordination, how fires are affecting the local community, and the state’s largest wildfire response in more than a decade. Attendees also observed a moment of silence for John Hammack, a fire crew member from Central Oregon who was killed on Thursday while responding to a blaze outside of Sisters.

“With Oregon experiencing the most severe extreme wildfire danger in years, I’m pleased to see such tremendous inter-agency coordination and communication,” said Governor Kitzhaber. “Today, we saw a brief glimpse of the hard work and long hours going into fighting these fires, and I know we’re all grateful for and appreciative of the contributions from those putting themselves into harm’s way to protect people and property.”

Thousands of emergency personnel are responding to fires across Oregon, with more than 5,000 responding on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry. Much of the response in Southern Oregon is focused on a group of fires known as the Douglas Complex in Douglas and Josephine counties. As of Saturday, the fire was approximately 34,000 acres and the nation’s highest priority for firefighting.

Joined by Major General Daniel Hokanson, Oregon's new Adjutant General, the Governor reiterated his pledge to make state resources available. Earlier this week, the Governor signed a declaration authorizing assistance from the Oregon National Guard. He also stressed the importance of preventing additional fires. “These threats are serious, and while first responders are working hard to protect property and resources, Oregonians and visitors to our state can do their part by practicing basic fire safety when enjoying Oregon’s forests.”

State Forester Doug Decker praised the contributions from state employees, contracted firefighters, and private landowners. “Staff have stepped up to serve on fire lines, in fire camps, or in other fire-related roles, while private landowners are sharing their expertise, experience, and equipment to help us protect people and land.” The state has also had access to critical resources like additional air tankers and helicopters due to the Wildfire Protection Act, passed by the 2013 Oregon Legislature.

Information about Oregon wildfires:

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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 about current wildfires. Please keep your posts civil and free of profanity.

Current wildfire info

National weather forecasters predictions that Oregon would see above average temperatures and below average rainfall in the summer of 2018 proved true. Almost all of Oregon was abnormally dry this summer, with a majority of the state in moderate to severe drought. Many areas posted record high temperatures or record strings of hot days. 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.