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.

































Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Oregon Dept. of Forestry fire update - August 7, 2013 afternoon


FIRES ON OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY-PROTECTED LANDS
No new fires 10 acres or larger on lands protected by ODF have been reported during the past 24 hours.

Lightning and thunderstorms moved through the southern Oregon area last night causing reports of new fire starts in those areas. Aggressive initial attack is underway; no starts have been reported at 10 acres or larger. As examples of lightning-caused fire start activity on ODF-protected forestlands, as of noon today, 16 starts have been reported in the northeast quadrant of Jackson County, as well as 3 new fire starts in Klamath County.

Thunder and dry lightning storms are predicted to become wetter as the week goes on, starting as soon as later today in southwest Oregon and even the southeast portion of the Cascades. Central, south-central, and northeast Oregon may have up to two more days of dry lightning events. Slightly cooler temperatures, beginning today in western Oregon, will spread east of the Cascades and statewide overall, and continue for the next few days. Red Flag warnings are 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.

Southwest Oregon continues to be the focus of firefighting activity in the state, with numerous large fires burning in the region being staffed by ODF and interagency Incident Management Teams.

With more than 55,000 acres of fires burning in southwest Oregon, ODF districts in the mid Willamette Valley, as well as the Willamette National Forest, are concerned about human-caused fire-starts, including illegal burns, campfires, and driving on forest roads with dry grasses. Joint News Release from ODF South Cascade and West Lane districts and the Willamette National Forest.

Douglas Complex
The 38,406-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 17 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 3,167 personnel assigned. The complex primarily consists of the Rabbit Mountain (19,382 acres), Dad’s Creek (20,494 acres), and Farmer’s (245 acres) fires. Firefighters continue efforts to strengthen fire lines throughout the complex. Firing operations to remove unburned vegetation between the fire and the control lines are being completed to make the line more secure. Fire managers are planning for even more favorable weather conditions later in the week.

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
• Fire officials and the County Sheriff have 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.

A community meeting at Josephine County Park in Wolf Creek is planned for this evening, August 7, at 6:30 pm. 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 12,631-acre, lightning-caused Big Windy Complex fires are burning approximately 25 miles northwest Grants Pass on BLM forestlands protected by ODF’s Southwest Oregon District, and is zero 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 Saturday, 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 1,311 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.

• Highlights:
Today, firefighters continue with the direct/indirect strategy and progress continues with containment lines preparing for burn-out, and conducting burn-out operations. The priority is to complete the southeast side first and then complete the west/northwest side. This approach was originally estimated to require approximately one week, however, it is now anticipated that the burn-out operations will take another four-five days.
• The southeast side remains a concern due to potential for the fire to push out of the Howard Creek area. As a contingency, Operations personnel are utilizing the existing road system to the east.
• Last night, firing operations were completed along the Bear Camp Road and moved on to the Peavine Road before gusty winds associated with thunderstorms forced firing operations to end. Crews are working diligently to hold and secure lines where burn-out operations have been completed.
• 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 Dand’s Creek fires) to make firefighting operations as safe and efficient as possible. Dry thunderstorms are possible after midnight tonight as the weather pattern becomes unstable.

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/

Brimstone Fire
The lightning-caused Brimstone Fire, located seven miles northwest of Merlin and five miles west of Sunny Valley, remains at 2,372 acres and is now in mop-up status. The fire has been turned over to a transition team out of the Southwest Oregon District. Unless the situation changes, this will be the last report on this fire

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

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 620 acres is the Green Ridge Fire (5-- acres) and the fires are 30 percent contained. The NorCal Interagency Incident Management Team 1 (IC: Mike Minton) assumed command of this complex on August 3, and 483 personnel are assigned. The fire is actively burning in very steep terrain above the Metolius Basin. Firefighters continue to make progress using air tankers, helicopters, bulldozers, hand crews and engines. The fire burned actively most of last night and crews are continuing to construct indirect line in preparations for burn-out operations when conditions allow. 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. 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 spots are ½ mile or less 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 10,245 acres and 30 percent contained. The Complex currently consists of three fires: the Whisky Fire (8,536 acres), the Buckeye Fire (1,682 acres) and the Smith Ridge Fire (27 acres and 100 percent contained). 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. On Tuesday, the Whiskey Fire reacted to increased atmospheric instability, crossing roads and established fire lines. Firefighters disengaged, and used their escape routes to return to their safety zones and no firefighters were injured. Overnight moisture may have sapped the slop-over of its energy. Infrared imagery from last night’s flyover shows about 300 acres of fire outside the lines just east of Pipestone Creek in the Beaver Creek drainage. As of this morning, the plan is to directly attack the slop-over using dozers and crews, as well as aircraft, if the smoke lifts enough for aerial attack. The Buckeye Fire is being mopped up, but has heat along the edges in places, which is where firefighters will be focusing their attention today. Smaller trees of six- to 12- inch diameters were observed falling as their roots succumbed to the fire, and firefighters were warned of the hazard. Thunderstorms predicted for several days arrived during the night at about 2:00 a.m. There were 15 lightning strikes in the initial attack area for which the Whiskey Complex fire management team is responsible, and some 600 strikes to the south and east. The low pressure area bringing the storms is also causing lower temperatures and higher humidity. As a result, firefighters may have a better chance to bolster their lines today. Initial attack forces stand ready to respond to fires ignited by the recent lightning. 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 249 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 no expansion yesterday. The smoke from other fires lifted long enough to allow a few hours of helicopter water drops on hot spots in the Nome Creek area and south on Salmon and Baker Creek drainages. 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. Management of the fire is being transitioned back to the Rogue River – Siskiyou National Forest beginning tomorrow, August 8. 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

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.





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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.