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.







Friday, August 21, 2015

Stouts Creek Fire update - Aug. 21, 2015

After three weeks of hard dangerous work, crews now have the Stouts Creek Fire fully encircled with a blackline—when the fire’s edge has burnt to a road or other fireline and is secure. Last night, fire crews completed burn-out operations on the last piece of the 51-mile fire perimeter. Reaching this milestone has been the fire crews’ focus for the past week.

“I feel really good about where we are at,” said John Pellisier Operations Section Chief. “I was able to sleep easy last night knowing that we have this thing cinched up.”

While mood at morning briefing was upbeat, fire managers reminded crews to be vigilant and stay focused on the work ahead. “Yes, we have a blackline around this fire. That’s great. And we still have lots of work to do,” said Incident Commander Chris Cline. “We need to stay focused and make sure our lines hold as the weather heats back up in coming days.”

The day shift will focus on burning interior patches of unburnt fuels near the southern tip of the fire. These operations will produce smoke for at least a couple more days. Once the burnout is secured, the evacuation level on Upper Cow Creek Road will be reduced. Until then, the evacuation levels remain unchanged.

A Level 2 Evacuation notice (Get Set) remains in place for residents on Upper Cow Creek Road east of Devils Flat to the end of the road. This precautionary measure is because of high temperatures and low humidities that might cause increased fire behavior. The Stouts Creek Fire has blackened 26,188 acres and is 80% contained and still has the potential for rapid growth. A contingency plan to protect structures on Upper Cow Creek is in place and will be activated if needed. Evacuation levels for all other areas remain at Level 1 (Get Ready).

The Stouts Creek Fire has been managed under unified command by Oregon Department of Forestry Team 2 Incident Commander Chris Cline and Forest Service Incident Commander Mike Wilde, since August 13.

There are 764 personnel assigned to the fire with 11 crews, 19 engines, 25 water tenders, 13 bulldozers and six helicopters. To date, the Stout Creek Fire has cost $33.3 million. The Incident Management Team is protecting lands that are about 46% on state protected lands, which include BLM and private lands and 54% on the Umpqua National Forest.


FIRE AT A GLANCE

● 26,188 acres
● 80% contained
● 158 residences threatened
● Personnel: 764
● Helicopters: 6
● Hand crews: 11
● Fire engines: 19
● Bulldozers: 13
● Water Tenders: 25
● Evacuations:  Level 2 (Get Set) for the area of Upper Cow Creek Road east from Devil's Flat to the end of the road. All other areas remain in Level 1.

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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.



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.