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.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Fire safety essential on fall forest outings

The recent rainfall across parts of Oregon raised hopes, but it wasn’t enough to put the 2013 wildfire season in the rear-view mirror, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Tom Fields.

“This was not a season-ending event,” the fire prevention coordinator said. “Coming off of such a dry summer, we’ll need thorough saturation of the forest fuels to truly change conditions.”

A warming trend forecast to begin Sept. 7 and continue for up to a week could elevate fire danger once again. While the precipitation helped moderate fire conditions in the forest by moistening light fuels such as grasses, he said, just a day or two of sun and warmth can return the vegetation to a flammable condition.

For many Oregonians, the impulse to burn yard debris kicks in with the first rain. But burning restrictions remain in place across the state and aren’t likely to be lifted anytime soon. While conditions may be calm when holding a match to a pile of shrub trimmings, a gust of wind can transform that burn pile into a wildfire in mere minutes.

And in spite of widespread news coverage this summer of Oregon’s giant wildfires, some forest visitors apparently didn’t get the message. The department’s field districts are regularly finding campfires left burning by recreationists who headed for home without attempting to put them out.

Fire danger will moderate as the seasonal transition takes hold with shorter days and cooler temperatures. But careless activity can still trigger wildfires this time of year. And the firefighting force present during the peak of the summer is shrinking. Students who worked on fire crews to pay tuition have returned to college, and contracts for air tankers and helicopters are running out.

Fall is a great time to visit Oregon’s forests. As you enjoy the state’s unrivaled natural heritage, please exercise caution to prevent fires.

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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:

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

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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.