Current situation

Winter and spring see lots of controlled burns in Oregon to eliminate piles of woody debris left over after logging or thinning. Embers buried in the ashes of these pile burns can sometimes reignite even days after a fire appears to be out, especially if winds blow away ashy debris. The same winds can then fan smoldering embers back to life. That's why it's a good idea to keep checking old pile burns to ensure no hot spots have rekindled.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Contract crews play key role in 2013 fire season

If the summer wildfire season seemed especially busy, the numbers bear it out: The contract fire crews of the Pacific Northwest logged more than 4,700 crew days on 98 wildfires in 2013. The 20-person hand crews – most of them based in Oregon - fought fire in seven western states. Equipped with shovels and Pulaskis, the yellow-shirted firefighters dug and scraped mile upon mile of containment line to stop the spread of fast-moving fires through the forest.

The wildfire agencies of Oregon and Washington began the season with 168 20-person crews on their contract, known as the Interagency Firefighting Crew Agreement. But demand exceeded supply and they added 17 more at the end of July. Ninety contract crews were deployed just on the Douglas Complex fires in southern Oregon.

“Having these trained crews available, fully equipped and ready to be at a fire within short notice, is a very valuable resource for government,” said Cindy Beck, the Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) contract services unit coordinator. “Due to the large fire activity in Oregon this year the crews exceeded the normal 14-day assignments, and continuously received favorable performance reviews.”

ODF developed the original agreement in the late 1980s, when downsizing in Oregon’s timber industry resulted in fewer woods workers and federal agency personnel available to fight fire. Other state and federal wildfire agencies in Washington and Oregon subsequently joined the agreement.

Though the Department of Forestry administers the interagency crew agreement, the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and other agencies have used the crews more extensively in the past. But in 2013, forestlands protected by ODF appeared in the crosshairs for lightning, and the state agency logged 3,214 contract crew days on 30 fires across its jurisdiction.

During a moderate fire season, Beck frequently gets calls from contractors, asking why their crews haven’t been dispatched yet. Lack of work was not the case this summer, and the industry stepped up to meet the need.

“In Oregon well over 40 percent of the fire resources that are available come from the professional private fire industry,” said Deborah Miley, executive director of the Lyons, Oregon-based National Wildfire Suppression Association. “These resources provide a highly qualified and trained workforce that has a shared goal to complete the mission and ensure that all of our firefighters go home.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Have a question/comment about this season's wildfire activity on the 16 million acres of private and public forestlands that the Oregon Dept. of Forestry protects from wildfire? Let us know. Please keep your remarks civil and free of profanity.

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:

Current wildfire info

Cool, wet weather in the winter of 2016-17 ended Oregon's long drought and left a thick mountain snowpack. It didn't take long for that to melt and vegetation to dry out due to a series of heatwaves and a prolonged stretch of dry weather over the summer. As forest fuels dried, fires started and spread, many from lands adjacent to those protected by ODF, such as the Chetco Bar Fire in Curry County. That one fire accounted for 46% of the 47,537 acres of land protected by ODF which burned in 2017. Of fires originating on ODF-protected land, 95% 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.


About Me

My photo
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.