Firefighting costs

The Oregon Dept. of Forestry's gross large-fire costs in the 2014 fire season were about $75.6 million, and the net costs about $47.6 million.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Oregon Dept. of Forestry fire update - Aug. 2, 2013 morning

This is an Oregon Dept. of Forestry (ODF) fire update for Friday August 2, 2013.

Note: In addition to current major fire updates about Fires on ODF-protected land and fires burning on other lands, the Fire Update currently includes several important fire news items that can be found under "More Fire News" and a new Wildfire Smoke Forecast section.

Fire statistics will not be included until further notice.


FIRES ON OREGON DEPT. OF FORESTRY-PROTECTED LANDS

Southern Oregon continues to be the focus of firefighting activity in the state with numerous large fires burning in the region.

* Douglas Complex
The 28,740-acre, lightning-caused Douglas Complex fires are burning seven miles north of Glendale in Douglas County, and are now 9 percent contained.

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

Approximately 470 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 continue to be mobilized to the Douglas Complex, some will be helping with road and traffic control. The Governor has declared a State of Emergency for Josephine County.

Douglas Complex Special Message: Evacuations have been downgraded to a level 2 for Reuben Road, Mt. Reuben Road and McCullough Creek Road in Douglas County. Residents will be allowed to return home on alert. The roads remain closed to the public. Josephine County remains the same with Level 3 evacuations for Poorman Creek, Lower Graves Creek Road, Grave Creek Road, and Lower Wolf Creek.

Please be aware and watch for scams related to donations for firefighters. If you are interested in donating, please look to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, Red Cross, or another established organization.

Current Situation: The Douglas Complex currently consists of 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. The Oregon Military Department and the Oregon Office of Emergency Management are assisting with response to the Douglas Complex. The Oregon Army National Guard is providing aviation assets at the request of the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Five aircraft are prepared to help with fire suppression including three HH-60M Blackhawk helicopters, one CH-47 Chinook helicopter, and one UH-72 Lakota. Approximately 125 Soldiers along with 26 high mobility multi wheeled vehicles are also slated to be called-up on State Active Duty within the next 72 hours to assist with traffic control in the evacuated areas.

Milo
Milo Branch is a group of smaller fires, all less than 20 acres in size. These fires will be turned back to Douglas Forest Protective Association 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. The containment line held yesterday with some mop up started.

Dad's Creek
The south end of the fire continues to burn actively near Grave Creek. Structural engines worked with hand crews to contain the spread of fire on the West end of Grave Creek road.

Approximately 30 homes are being threatened in the Grave Creek, Poorman Creek, and Lower Wolf Creek areas. Crews will continue to remove any vegetation that may be considered a fire hazard around structures in the Grave Creek and Wolf Creek area today.

The fire is expected to burn actively again in the afternoon when winds start to affect fire movement.

Weather: The marine layer will break sooner today. Temperatures will be up 5-10 degrees and humidity lower. Winds will pick up in the afternoon, coming from the west and rotating northwest with gusts up to 20miles per hour. A drying trend is forecasted 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 downgraded to a level 2 for McCullough Creek Road, Reuben Road, and Mt. Reuben Road in Douglas County. Poorman Creek Road, Lower Grave Creek, Grave Creek, and Lower Wolf Creek in Josephine County remain a level 3.
* Residences in the area are still 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 for tonight at the Glendale elementary school 6:30 pm.

Public Safety/Prevention: Firefighters are contending with hazards, like falling boulders and trees, old mine shafts, and narrow roads 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 burned. 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 for both industry and the public. Check www.dfpa.net before commencing your activities.

Resources include 52 Type 2 hand crews, 78 engines, 18 bulldozers, 19 water tenders and overhead personnel, as well as National Guard and State Fire Marshal Office resources. Air resources include 3 Type 1 helicopters, 6 Type 2 helicopters, and 2 Type 3 helicopters, plus 5 National Guard helicopters.
A total of 1,645 personnel are assigned to this fire.

For information about this fire: 541-832-0136; 541-832-0137

* Brimstone Fire
The lightning-caused Brimstone Fire is located 7 miles northwest of Merlin and 5 miles west of Sunny Valley and is now 1,711 acres. Crews continued aggressive suppression efforts and containment of the fire is now estimated at 25 percent.

Note: The current evacuation contingency plan and new GIS data from the county increased the number of residences and outbuildings threatened to 1640 and 1492 respectively.

No evacuation orders have been issued but some road closures are in effect:

* Hog Creek Road is closed at Merlin-Galice Road;
* Quartz Creek Road is closed at Hugo Road;
* Angora Creek Road is inaccessible due to Graves Creek Road closure
Structural fire protection personnel have assessed homes should an evacuation become necessary.

This has been a difficult area to control due to the limited access and steep terrain; there is also limited visibility and lack of aircraft support due to smoke inversion from the Douglas Complex. Today burn crews are going take advantage of the favorable NW wind and weather conditions and back burn along the NW corner of 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. Fire is currently 75% lined. Extreme fire conditions still threaten the control lines. Spotting occurred last night and into the morning, up to 2 acres in size, but crews were able to control them. As a contingency, a secondary fire line was created through a connecting network of newly opened roads and established roads. The fire team is preparing for increased winds and a warming trend starting Friday that could affect fire behavior and pose hazardous conditions for firefighters.

Approximately 700 personnel and firefighters are now assigned to the fire under the supervision of the Oregon Department of Forestry. Resources include 26 crews, 31 engines, seven bulldozers, 7 helicopters and 15 water tenders. No injuries to fire personnel have been reported since the start of the fire.

Fire suppression costs to date are approximately $4 million. The fire is being managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry with many cooperators including the Office of State Fire Marshal, Bureau of Land Management, Josephine County Emergency Services, Josephine County Forestry, Josephine County Sheriff's Department, Josephine County Search and Rescue, Rural Metro Fire Department, City of Grants Pass, and the National Weather Service.

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
The lightning-caused Big Windy Complex is now estimated at 5,132 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 burning in steep river canyon country and 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 is assigned to this fire. Spotting activity from the Jenny Fire has been observed up to 1/3 mile from the main fire perimeter. Concern remains that spot fires may cross the river in the Horsehoe Bend area. The fire currently remains south of the Rogue River.

News & Highlights for the Big Windy Complex:

Firefighters continue to work on hand line and dozer line along ridges and road systems on the east and west flanks of the fire as they implement an indirect strategy. The indirect strategy is the first and best option for success in suppressing fires located in rugged and inaccessible terrain.

With the lifting of the inversion coupled with predicted warmer weather over the next few days, fire behavior is expected to increase. An area of low pressure off the coast will lead to better smoke dispersion and increased mixing in the air with higher winds.

Oregon National Guard joins the multi-agency wildfire response in SW Oregon with 5 helicopters, 36 aviation personnel, and 125 ground personnel.

The BLM portion of the Wild Section of the Rogue River is still closed from Grave Creek to Mule Creek due to extreme fire conditions and public health and safety issues. The Recreation section of the Wild and Scenic Rogue River is currently open to rafters. However, the Grave Creek takeout is closed and law enforcement officials will not allow traffic into Grave Creek. Rafters floating on this section of the river should use the Argo, Almeda, or Rand river exits.

Yesterday, firefighters completed preparations around the Black Bar Lodge and the Zane Grey Cabin. Crews are remaining on site near these important historical resources on the Rogue River.

Resources:
The Resources committed to the Big Windy Complex include 4 Hot Shot crews, 9 type II hand crews, 7 dozers, and 9 engines working on the fire. In addition to continuing work associated with the indirect line strategy, crews are scouting for north end contingency plans in the event the fire crosses the Rogue River. Operations personnel are creating structure protection plans for the east side of the fire. 768 personnel are now assigned to this fire.

Air Operations:
The inversion lifted enough that a fixed-wing aircraft and a helicopter were able to be used for limited reconnaissance yesterday.

Closures in Place:
The Bear Camp Road is officially closed with closure orders and maps issued by the Medford District of the Bureau of Land Management/Grants Pass Interagency Office and the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest/Gold Beach Ranger District. See websites above for additional information. The Josephine County Sheriff's Office and the Curry County Sheriff's Office are providing staffing at the closure points and signs are in place.

Rogue River Trail from Grave Creek to Rogue River Ranch is closed.

The BLM portion of the Wild Section of the Rogue River is closed from Grave Creek to Mule Creek due to extreme fire conditions and public health and safety issues. Cooperating agencies and partners include Oregon Department of Forestry, Medford District Bureau of Land Management, Josephine County, Curry County, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Jackson County.

* Additional Fires on ODF-protected lands:

The lightning-caused Spence Fire burning in young timber and Ponderosa Pine 12 miles northwest of Klamath Falls was reported to Salem Coordination yesterday. The fire is 100 percent lined, and in mop-up.

The lightning-caused Murray Peak Fire burning in grass and sagebrush southwest of Baker is 25 acres and was reported to Salem Dispatch yesterday. The fire is fully lined and is being monitored.

A 10-acre lightning-caused fire burning in timber and brush on the Central Oregon District was reported Wednesday threatening 12 homes in the Squaw Creek Canyon Estates 6 miles northeast of Sisters. This fire is fully lined and is being monitored. Numerous small fires are still being reported.

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

FIRES BURNING ON OTHER LANDS
The 4,836-acre, lightning-caused Whiskey Complex fires burning in timber six miles east of Tiller on the Tiller Ranger District of the Umpqua National Forest is 18 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: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3562/

The 1,970-acre lightning-caused Labrador Fire (USFS) 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: active spread due to wind and topography; fire continued to be moderated by smoke over the area.

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: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3563/

MORE FIRE NEWS

Lightning Activity around the State
Several hundred lightning strikes were recorded in Central and Eastern Oregon in the last 24 hours with some significant precipitation at the higher elevations.

Central Oregon Dispatch Center reported more than 893 lightning strikes Wednesday night and dozens of fire starts (all jurisdictions) in the central Oregon area. None of the fires were reported at bigger than 10 acres.

Wednesday night around 500 lightning strikes sparked at least three fires in Klamath County in south central Oregon. Two fires were on private lands and one on land managed by the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Interagency fire crews were dispatched to those three fires and they held them to 1/10th of an acre or less.

Help Wanted to Determine Fire Causes
A series of wildfires that have occurred recently in the Blackwell Hill and Gold Hill areas of Jackson County are clearly human caused and likely intentional.

The Oregon Department of Forestry's Southwest Oregon District is asking the public's help in identifying the people responsible for starting these fires.
Please call the Southwest Oregon District office at (541) 664-3328 if you have information that will help identify the people or the vehicle that started three fires on Blackwell Hill Rd around 5:00 p.m. on July 25. Another fire occurred on Monday, July 29, around 5:00 p.m. along Hwy. 234 near the Gold Hill Sports Park.

WILDFIRE SMOKE FORECAST
Air quality has improved somewhat in the Rogue Valley and other SW valleys as the upper trough has improved smoke dispersion. Increased humidity, and lower temperatures have reduced fire activity as well.

Today: The upper trough will continue to be centered over western OR with generally dry conditions and light winds, oriented mostly NW, expected in the fire regions. Accompanying this scenario will be an increase in mixing levels over inland areas. This scenario will likely improve smoke dispersion in areas not located east and southeast of active fires. Also, some areas near the coast will likely see reduced low cloud cover in the afternoon and warmer surface conditions. Elevated smoke levels will likely persist downwind of existing fires.
The forecast is for the trough to weaken over the weekend and temperatures warming up to near normal levels.

The county health departments and Red Cross have been issuing face masks for those needing them. The Ashland Shakespearian festival has had to cancel some shows.
Wildfire smoke dispersion depends on the stability of the atmosphere as well as wind direction and speed. A stable atmosphere holds smoke to the ground and an unstable atmosphere allows smoke to rise and dissipate. Smoke is typically mixed to higher altitudes during the afternoon, when daytime heating destabilizes the air mass. Conversely, smoke tends to settle near the ground and in drainages during the overnight and early morning hours.

FIRE STATISTICS
Note: Acreage of fires is continually tracked, but entering this information from field personnel into our central database from the field has been delayed. Those personnel are currently heavily engaged in firefighting. Reporting of cumulative statistics will resume when the information is available.

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.

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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

Extremely dry conditions exist across most forestlands in Oregon currently. Large wildfires to date this season have been both lightning- and human-caused.

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. Suppression of large fires can run into millions of dollars.

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Oregon Dept. of Forestry's public information officers maintain this blog. During the wildfire season, we spend much of our time reporting on fires and firefighting to news media and the public.