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.







Sunday, July 5, 2015

Niagara Fire update July 5, 2015 morning


[Note: This is a more complete update on the Niagara Fire than the one posted earlier.]      
Oregon Department of Forestry                                                                                                     
North Cascades District, Santiam Unit
Russ Lane, Incident Commander                                                                                            
Fire Information: (503) 801-8468. http://wildfireoregondeptofforestry.blogspot.com/
Fire at a glance
Size: 70 acres
Location: Adjacent to Big Cliff Dam on Highway 22
Personnel: 100
Aircraft: 5 helicopters, 3 Type 1, 2 Type 2
Weather: hot dry conditions expected to continue

The Niagara Fire was reported on July 4, 2015 burning above Big Cliff Dam along Highway 22.  The fire grew rapidly with some spotting burning through heavy timber to a size now estimated at 70 acres.  Helicopters and air tankers were used to slow its growth, and little additional growth was observed overnight.
Today, July 5, 2015, the goal explained by Russ Lane, Incident Commander “is to knock the fire down by air and get a containment line around it on the ground.”  Weather in the fire area continues to be hot and dry, with historically dry fuels.  About 100 personnel are assigned to the fire.  Five helicopters, three heavy lift and two medium lift, are available to provide support for fire line construction. 
There are no road or recreational closures associated with the fire at this time. Visitors to the Detroit Lake Recreation Area should be aware that boating on the west end of the lake and recreational activities on Detroit dam may be limited due to fire activity. For those traveling Highway 22, visit the Oregon Department of Transportation Trip Check site http://tripcheck.com  for the most current information.  Fire traffic is heavy in the vicinity of the Big Cliff Dam and the public is advised to use caution when traveling in this area.
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, and Lyons Fire Department
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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.