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, August 13, 2015

Stouts Creek Fire update - Thursday morning 08-13-15

Hot temperatures and winds out of the west late Wednesday afternoon pushed the 23,841 acre Stouts Creek Fire, testing firelines. There were a few spots over the line along the southeast corner but all were contained and the remainder of the perimeter held. The fire has reached 63% containment. At 6:00 am today, Oregon Department of Forestry Team 2, lead by Incident Commander Chris Cline, will be in unified command of the fire with Forest Service Incident Commander Mike Wilde.

One of the last small areas to be burned out in the Upper Cow Creek area was successfully completed last night. Mop-up is underway in that area while much of the north end of the fire has almost completed mop-up. Mop-up means fire fighters walk the fireline, sometimes using handheld infrared devices, and ensure that no heat or smoke is visible for several hundred feet inside. Mop-up also continues along some sections of the southeast, south and southwest flanks. Operations managers report that there are still those areas with large, burning trees inside the line that, with a bit of wind, higher temperatures and dry receptive fuels could carry fire outside containment lines.

“I think the message that we got with yesterday’s unexpected critical fire weather,” says Deputy Incident Commander Russ Lane, “is that, despite the success we’ve had, this is still a big fire with a lot of life and potential in it. We will continue to be vigilant, holding and widening the lines we have while we work to wrap up the south end.” The weather is expected to continue to be hot and dry again today which will increase fire behavior. There is still a large burnout needed on the south end of the fire, north of Upper Cow Creek Road and Beaver Creek. Prep work along roads in the area continues as firefighters wait for the right conditions to complete that operation.

The Stouts Creek Fire has had an unusually good safety record for a fire that has had over 1900 people. The medical unit’s primary complaints have been a significant number of firefighters dealing with poison oak and bee stings. Wednesday afternoon, a firefighter was also taken off the line with a knee injury and taken to a local hospital.

There currently are 1,560 personnel assigned to the fire with 56 crews, 46 engines, 30 water tenders, 21 bulldozers and 10 helicopters. Numbers of personnel and equipment will continue to shrink as objectives are met and these resources move on to fires with greater needs.

The Stouts Creek Fire costs to date are $22.4 million. The Incident Management Team leading the effort under unified command is protecting lands that are about 52 percent on state protected lands, which include BLM and private lands, and 48 percent on the Umpqua National Forest. Twenty-three states and three Canadian provinces have provided staff for this effort.

Stouts Fire Information Office
Phone 541-825-3724
Facebook: www.facebook.com/StoutsFire8/13/15 

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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.