Current situation

ODF has been responding to dozens of lightning-sparked wildfires in southern Oregon. Incident Management Team 2 has been dispatched to assist the Southwest Oregon District with the Garner Complex of fires near Grants Pass. Very hot, dry weather today remains a risk for new fire starts and a challenge for suppressing existing fires. Many ODF districts and forest protective associations have raised their fire danger level and tightened restrictions on activities linked to fire starts. Check ODF's fire restrictions and closures web page for the latest details at http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx




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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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

National weather forecasters are predicting the summer of 2018 will see above average temperatures and below average rainfall. Drought has already been declared in a number of counties in eastern and southern Oregon, with northwest Oregon also unusually dry for June. These conditions set the stage for potentially large, fast-moving wildfires.

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.