2015 another severe fire season

A cool, wet winter and heavy snowpack delayed the start of fire season in much of western and northeastern Oregon. However, the onset of hotter, drier weather is quickly drying out forests and rangeland, making it easier for fires to start. More than half of ODF-protected lands are in districts that have declared the start of fire season this month. It's especially important as summer approaches to avoid or be extra careful with any potential source of fire in wooded areas. Fire season means the end of most outdoor activities that are high risk for starting a fire, such as debris burning, campfires outside of designated areas, and using tracer ammunition and exploding targets.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wildfire danger on the rise in Oregon

September 11, 2014

For wildfire managers, the current forecast of dry easterly winds and rising temperatures means just one thing: elevated fire behavior. East winds, common in late summer and early fall, can turn a smoldering campfire or an errant spark from a vehicle into a raging blaze in minutes. And the winds coming later this week are predicted to be especially strong – 15 to 20 mph. The low humidity, coupled with wind and high temperatures, can turbocharge even the smallest fire start.

Whether this weather event spawns new wildfires depends almost entirely on how Oregonians behave in the forest. This time of year, human activity is the chief cause of fires, not lightning. We can prevent wildfires by taking extra precautions as we work and recreate in the forest. You can make the difference by following a few simple tips:

§  Operate ATVs and other motorized vehicles only on established roads.

§  Check your vehicle for dragging tow chains that can send sparks into roadside vegetation.

§  Don’t park on dry grass – the hot exhaust system can set it smoldering in seconds.

§  Check current fire restrictions for the area before building a campfire. Open fires may be prohibited. But if allowed, tend the fire constantly and extinguish it thoroughly before leaving the area.

§  Smoke only in an enclosed vehicle. Properly dispose of cigarette butts.

The Keep Oregon Green Association offers additional tips on preventing wildfires at: http://www.keeporegongreen.org/home.html

Rod Nichols                                                     Kris Babbs
Oregon Dept. of Forestry                             Keep Oregon Green Assoc.
503-945-7425                                                 503-945-7499
rnichols@odf.state.or.us                              kbabbs@odf.state.or.us

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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, even in non-drought years Oregon's warm, dry summers create conditions that allow for fire to start and spread. In an average summer firefighters still see almost a thousand fires on lands 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. 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.