Firefighting costs to date

FIRE COST ESTIMATE

ODF incurred $122 million in emergency firefighting costs during the 2013 wildfire season. Reimbursements from federal agencies are expected to reduce the costs to a net $71 million. This still makes 2013 the most costly season on record for the agency.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Oregon Dept of Forestry fire update - Aug. 8, 2013

This is the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) fire update for Thursday, August 8, 2013.

Lightning and thunderstorms moved through much of southern, central, and eastern Oregon yesterday and last night, and weather forecasts predict continued chances for lightning across much of southern, central, and eastern Oregon, although in many areas, these storms are predicted to become wetter as the week goes on. Red Flag Warnings remain in place for several areas of the state, including southwest, south-central, and north-central, with ending dates that vary from tomorrow in the southwest, extending into Sunday in the north-central/northeast area.

Aggressive initial attack on new lightning-fire-starts has been underway and with the exception of one new fire start (Grouse Mountain Fire), fire starts on ODF-protected forestlands were suppressed at less than 10 acres and today are in mop-up. In central Oregon, on all forestlands, initial attack forces responded to 11 new fire starts; in Klamath/Lake counties, there were 15 total fire starts on ODF protected forestlands (including one human-caused) with all starts contained at ½ acre or less, as well as 7 starts on federal lands in the area; and, in northeast Oregon there were three starts on ODF protected forestlands. There were 19 new fire starts in ODF’s Southwest Oregon District – 18 in Jackson County – resulting from Wednesday’s lightning storms, mostly in the Cascades with some in the Siskiyou Mountains. Other fire starts in other parts of southwest Oregon were also responded to by the Incident Management Teams managing the large fires in that area.

FIRES ON OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY-PROTECTED LANDS

Grouse Mountain Fire/GC [Grant County] Complex
The Grouse Mountain Fire started on Wednesday afternoon, August 7, and is currently burning three miles north of John Day, east of Highway 395, on forestlands protected by ODF, although it is within ½ mile of the Malheur National Forest – spreading north and east. At this time, the fire is not threatening John Day. The fire is estimated to be approximately 2,000 acres and is 15 percent contained, burning primarily in rugged terrain with juniper, grass, and brushy fuels. Active fire spotting, torching, and fire runs have been observed and continue today, with large piles of decked juniper in the area adding to the intensity of the fire. Fire crews worked throughout the night to begin establishing containment fire lines. Today, 8 engines, 2 dozers, 2 water tenders, and 3 hand crews are assigned to the fire. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Plans are for oversight of all wildfires currently burning in Grant County to transition to Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team 4 (IC: Watts) today and be known as the “GC Complex” (GC for Grant County). After the team has assumed command ODF will continue working on the Grouse Mountain Fire as a branch of the larger GC Complex. During the briefing for the incoming incident management team earlier this afternoon, the following items were noted: 1) drift smoke from fire and air attack is highly visible from John Day this afternoon; 2) there is still potential for evacuation of some scattered dwellings; 3) there are concerns about cattle (1000+) on federal allotments north and east of the fire; and, 4) flame heights are running 4-8 feet on this fire, but 30-50 feet when pushed by the wind. Resources at risk include: structures, timber, grass, fences, cattle, and big game habitat.

Douglas Complex
The 42,651-acre, lightning-caused Douglas Complex fires are burning approximately seven miles north of Glendale in Douglas and Josephine counties on a mix of BLM and private forestlands protected by the Douglas Forest Protective Association, and are now 28 percent contained. ODF Incident Management Team #2 (IC: Dennis Sifford) assumed command of this complex on Saturday, July 27. The Douglas Complex remains the highest fire priority nationally for resources, and there are currently 3,148 personnel assigned. The complex primarily consists of the Rabbit Mountain (21,598 acres), Dad’s Creek (20,794 acres), and Farmer’s (245 acres) fires. Overall the primary focus is to strengthen control lines on the Rabbit Mountain and Dad’s Creek fires. Yesterday, crews from the Douglas Complex fire assisted Douglas Forest Protective Association firefighters control a ¼ acre fire ignited by lightning in the McCullough Creek area.

The following evacuation levels and closures are in effect:

• Cow Creek Road from Riddle into the fire area and from Glendale into the fire is closed to the public.
• Adjusted the evacuation levels for the fire area: Evacuations are now at a Level 2 for McCullough Creek Road, Reuben Road, and Mt. Reuben Road in Douglas County. The Level 3 evacuation has been modified to a Level 2 restriction for Lower Grave Creek, Grave Creek, and Lower Wolf Creek in Josephine County. The area from the community of Wolf Creek to Watertank Gulch has been modified to a Level 1 status.
• 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.

More than 60 people attended last night's community meeting in Wolf Creek, where fire officials presented a status update on the fire, and discussed law enforcement's lowering of the evacuation notification levels on the south end of the Dad's Creek fire. Community members were very appreciative of the team's efforts.

For more information, visit the complex’s Inciweb site. In addition, news releases from the fire team and other information that may occur throughout the day is also posted on the Douglas Forest Protective Association’s Facebook page and on the ODF Wildfire Blog.

Big Windy Complex
The 14,085-acre, lightning-caused Big Windy Complex fires are burning approximately 25 miles northwest of Grants Pass, I miles northwest of Galice, on BLM forestlands protected by ODF’s Southwest Oregon District, and is 5 percent contained. Under a formal delegation of authority from ODF, the Pacific Northwest Interagency Incident Management Team #2 (IC: Chris Schulte) assumed command of this complex on Monday, July 29. On August 6, the three fires included in the complex (Big Windy, Calvert Peak, and Jenny – formerly Windy 16) grew together into one fire. There are currently 1,339 personnel assigned to the complex. Closures remain in place for the area including Bear Camp Road, Burnt Ridge Road (Forest Road 2308) from junctions with Forest Road 2300 to 3300, the Rogue River Trail from Grave Creek to Rogue River Ranch, and the BLM portion of the Wild Section of the Rogue River from Grave Creek to Mule Creek. Evacuations include a Level 2 evacuation notice in place starting at the Marial Lodge and following the Rogue River east to Grave Creek, then north and west on the Marial Byway back to the Marial Lodge. On August 7, an additional Level 1 notice was issued for the area of Galice Access Road, including the road north to the Graves Creek Bridge.

Highlights:
• A community meeting will be held at the Galice Community Hall at 4 p.m. this evening.
• The formation of smoke columns is possible due to potential increased fire activity associated with clear skies.
• With clearing of smoke and good visibility today after days of smoky skies, the air group will assist with ground operations today, including helicopter water bucket drops on the north, west, and east flanks of the fire and fixed wing aircraft flying reconnaissance over the fire area.
• Firefighters continue making good progress on the north flank building containment lines, with an estimated two more days of work to finish this area. The containment line on the northeast is progressing.
• Work on the western ridge continues slowly with equipment building dozer line in tough terrain.
• Operations, weather, and fire behavior specialists from the Big Windy Complex are coordinating closely with counterparts on the Douglas Complex (i.e., Rabbit Mountain and Dad’s Creek fires) to make firefighting operations as safe and efficient as possible.

NOTE: A new information phone number is available for the Big Windy Complex at 541-476-1252. For more information on this complex, visit the complex’s Inciweb site and social media sites:
• http://BigWindyORFire.blogspot.com
• http://twitter.com/BigWindyORFire
• http://facebook.com/BigWindyORFire
• http://www.flickr.com/photos/bigwindyorfire/

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

FIRES BURNING ON OTHER LANDS

ODF, along with federal resources, assisted the John Day Rural Fire Department to suppress three lightning-caused fires, the Maryville Complex, that started Wednesday afternoon on the southeastern edge of John Day, near Canyon City, threatening an estimated 400 homes. Aggressive air and ground attack successfully reduced the risk of those fires spreading beyond an estimated 400 acres and onto nearby ODF-protected lands. Two outbuildings and a garage were damaged by these fires.

The lightning-caused Cascade Division Complex is burning approximately 14 miles northwest of Sisters. Most of the small fires in the complex have been completely suppressed and the only large fire in this complex of approximately 958 acres is the Green Ridge Fire , which is 30 percent contained. The NorCal Interagency Incident Management Team 1 (IC: Mike Minton) assumed command of this complex on August 3, and 620 personnel are assigned. The fire is actively burning in very steep terrain above the Metolius Basin. Late yesterday evening, with the help of adverse weather conditions, the fire spotted up to one mile over the planned fire lines on the east side. Crews worked through the night and made good progress in getting fire line around many of these spots. Today crews will continue to search out additional spot fires and construct lines to contain the fire. Residents and visitors to the Sisters/Camp Sherman area may still see increased smoke production in the area. There will be a Community Meeting Friday, August 9th at 6:30 pm at the Camp Sherman Community Building. There are no evacuations in place, but, for public and firefighter safety, there is an emergency closure in the area, including: Forest Road 14 from the 900 – 1400 junctions, the East Metolius Trail, Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery, and three campgrounds on the Metolius River – Lower Bridge, Allen Springs, and Pioneer Ford. While these three campgrounds are closed, six popular campgrounds on the Metolius River still remain open. For the public who wish to visit the Camp Sherman area, businesses are open and look forward to serving your recreational needs.

As of August 6, the IMT is no longer responsible for initial attack in the area; that responsibility has been returned to the forest, and the team is solely managing the Green Ridge incident. ODF continues to carefully monitor progress on this fire since, particularly on the eastern side where spots are less than ¼ mile from ODF-protected private forestlands. For more information on this fire, visit the fire’s Inciweb site or the team’s Facebook page.

The lightning-caused Whiskey Complex fire burning six miles east of Tiller on the Tiller Ranger District of the Umpqua National Forest is now 10,466 acres and 35 percent contained, with an estimated full containment date of August 20th . The Complex currently consists of three fires: the Whisky Fire (which has joined with the original Big Brother Fire and is now 8,757 acres), the Buckeye Fire (1,682 acres and fully contained, with hot spots remaining and in mop-up within the fire perimeter) and the Smith Ridge Fire (27 acres and 100 percent contained, with hot spots remaining and in mop-up within the fire perimeter). The incident is being managed by a Unified Command: Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team 1 (IC: Williams) and the Douglas Forest Protective Association (IC: Ken Lane). Federal and private forestlands remain at risk from fires in this complex.

Dozers and crews worked through the day on Wednesday toward containing Tuesday’s 250-acre slop-over on the south side of the Whiskey Fire. A little more work is needed today to complete the task. Otherwise, the fire remains within the perimeter of fire breaks that firefighters have been building around it. Aircraft from the Whiskey Complex were involved in detecting nine fires along the crest of the Cascades at the eastern edge of the Tiller Ranger District; they also took action on 11 new fires on neighboring districts, including two on land protected by Douglas Fire Protective Association.

Overall, the fires in the Whiskey Complex calmed down considerably on Wednesday. Temperatures were down and humidity was up, resulting in damper fine fuels that didn’t burn as easily. Firefighters had extensive plans to improve lines by burning out the nearby fuels on Wednesday, but the fuels would not carry the fire. Light rain was falling on the south side of the Whiskey Fire on Wednesday evening. As the fire expands, fire officials have also significantly expanded the closure area, which now runs east along Jackson Creek to FS Road 68, with the eastern edge touching on Crooked Creek, Cougar Butte, Abbott Butte, and the Rogue -Umpqua Divide Wilderness Area. For more information on this complex, visit the complex’s Inciweb site.

The 2,020-acre lightning-caused Labrador Fire is burning 13 miles west of Cave Junction (approximately 30 miles southwest of Grants Pass), in an area south and west of the Illinois River in inaccessible country. Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team 2 (IC Brett Fillis) is managing this fire and there are currently 185 personnel assigned. A public meeting has been scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 8th at the Josephine County Building in Cave Junction. The perimeter of the fire remained stalled with minimal expansion for the past five days. The smoke from other fires continues to moderate fire behavior on the Labrador Fire. The community of Oak Flat in Josephine County is still under a Level 2 evacuation (be prepared to leave on a moment’s notice), as well as a Level 1 evacuation (prepare to leave the area) for the area between Kerby Flat to McCaleb Ranch. The Illinois River road is closed to the public to allow access for fire traffic. Management of the fire is being transitioned back to the Rogue River – Siskiyou National Forest today, and, unless the situation changes, this will be the last report on this fire. For more information on this complex, visit the fire’s Inciweb site.

OTHER FIRE INFORMATION
For information on other ongoing wildfires in other jurisdictions within Oregon, go to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center website, http://www.nwccweb.us/ and to the national Incident Information System website at http://www.inciweb.org/state/38.

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, as well as a Twitter feed.

FIRE STATISTICS
Fire statistics will not be included until further notice.

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.

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

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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: information@odf.state.or.us.

Current wildfire info

A rainy September ended fire season in all ODF districts. Oregonians are urged always to exercise fire safety in the forest and the wildland-urban interface.

While lightning often ignites the largest wildfires, human carelessness accounts for 69 percent of all fire starts on the 16 million acres of forestland 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. 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.