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 morning

Firefighters continue to battle the 70-acre Niagara Fire in the Santiam Unit of Oregon Department of Forestry’s North Cascade District. Reported July 4 about noon, the fire is burning near Highway 22 in the vicinity of the Big Cliff Dam. ODF is being assisted by the U.S. Forest Service as well as local rural fire departments.

Approx. 100 personnel are fighting the fire today. ODF has increased the air attack and will have five helicopters dropping water today, along with large and small air tankers delivering fire retardant. Several private contract hand crews are on scene, for a total of 100 personnel fighting the fire.

The Niagara Fire is uncontained at present. The fire is burning on steep terrain in heavy timber. Hot, dry conditions persist in the area, which will challenge firefighters as they work to contain the blaze. Cause is under investigation.

Highway 22 remains open. Traffic is expected to be heavy today, with travelers returning from the Fourth of July holiday weekend, and firefighting equipment also moving along the major travel route.

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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.




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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.