Lightning is largely absent from Oregon this week. However, warm, dry weather will greet the hundreds of thousands of visitors arriving to see the eclipse of the sun on Aug. 21. Avoiding activities that can spark a wildfire is key to making the eclipse a safe and pleasant experience for all. One measure adopted to reduce the risk of wildfire is a temporary ban, now in effect, on all campfires in state parks





Friday, August 9, 2013

Governor declares conflagration for the Grouse Mountain Fire

At 10:30 p.m. Thursday, Gov. John Kitzhaber declared the Grouse Mountain Fire burning near John Day to be a conflagration. Approximately 75 structures are threatened. (Invoking the state Conflagration Act frees up state funding to send resources from structural fire departments outside the area to the fire to assist in protecting homes and other structures.)

The Oregon Office of the State Fire Marshal has activated its Blue Incident Management Team and three task forces to assist with structural protection.

Baker/Union County Task Force 1 is on scene and working. Hood River/Wasco County Task Force 2 and Yamhill County Task Force 3 should arrive on scene around noon on Aug. 9.

The Grouse Mountain Fire is part of the Grant County Complex of fires. Following is additional information as released from the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) at 10 p.m. on Thursday:

The Grouse Mountain Fire, a branch of the GC Complex, made a significant push early this evening when wind direction abruptly changed. Aided by strong north winds, fire runs have approached the limits of John Day along the northern boundary of the city. At this time, there is no report of any damage to structures.

Fuels burning nearest to town are primarily grass and brush, with scattered juniper. Fire crews are engaging in aggressive initial attack, working through the night with bulldozers, fire engines, and hand crews to begin establishing containment fire lines. Steep terrain makes dozer and engine access difficult.

In addition to the threat to John Day, the fire - currently burning on private lands protected by ODF, is also threatening to cross over into the Malheur National Forest.

The fire is east of Highway 395, which remains open, but fire-related traffic in the area may be heavy.

Earlier today (Thursday, August 8), two cabins were known to be within the fire perimeter, as well as two other structures near the fire area at that time that were threatened, but there are no reports of damage. The Mt. Vernon Rural Fire District has been providing structural protection.

The Grouse Mountain Fire is one of a number of fire starts in Grant County called the GC Complex ("GC" for Grant County) from Wednesday, August 7. ODF provided initial attack yesterday and today, directing suppression actions on the wildfire. Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team 4 was briefed on the situation earlier today and took over the complex of fire starts on various ownerships within Grant County at 6 p.m. tonight. ODF will continue working on the Grouse Mountain Fire as a branch of the larger GC Complex (GC for Grant County).

Current weather forecasts predict continued chances for lightning and erratic winds through the weekend. Safety hazards for fire fighters include rattlesnakes and falling snags.

The cause of the Grouse Mountain Fire remains under investigation.

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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.