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.







Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Niagara Fire 55 percent contained, in final stages

July 8, 2015, 8 a.m.

Niagara Fire Update                                                     

(This will be the last update unless there are significant changes)

Oregon Department of Forestry                                                                                                     
North Cascades District, Santiam Unit
Blake Ellis, Incident Commander                                                                                            

Fire Information: Note change to (503) 859-2151, Santiam Unit Office http://wildfireoregondeptofforestry.blogspot.com/

Fire at a glance:
Size: 79 acres, 55% contained
Location: Adjacent to Big Cliff Dam on Highway 22
Personnel: 180
Aircraft: One helicopter
Weather: warm and dry today

The goal now is to keep the Niagara Fire within its established containment line and work towards control. Containment is currently 55 percent. There has been no increase in the fire size in the last 24 hours, but due to more accurate mapping with GPS its size is now 79 acres.

Mop-up, the final extinguishment of the fire, is now in full swing. Infrared (heat-seeing) cameras were used Tuesday night to check the perimeter and few areas with remaining heat were found within 35 feet of the fire line. Fire hose has been laid on about 85 percent of the fire line that will supply firefighters with water to speed their work. Higher relative humidities will also help put out the smaller embers as they are dug up and exposed to the slightly cooler, moist air. Ensuring that this fire will not reignite was explained this way by Blake Ellis, Incident Commander, “I don’t want anything popping up after the crews are sent home.”

With improved containment, crews will be released to rest or to other fire assignments. The number of personnel assigned to the Niagara Fire is expected to be about 160 tomorrow, July 9, 2015.

There are no road or recreational closures associated with the fire at this time.

The Niagara Fire was first reported July 4, 2015 and is located adjacent to the Big Cliff Dam along Highway 22.  The cause of the fire is under investigation. Fire restrictions are in effect on the Willamette National Forest and state and private forests, http://www.oregon.gov/odf/pages/fire/precautionlevelmap.aspx.

Cooperators include: Willamette National Forest, Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon Department of Transportation, Bonneville Power Administration, Detroit-Idahna Fire District, Gates Fire Department, Lyons Fire Department, and Oregon Department of Corrections

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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

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.



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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.




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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.