Current situation

Smoke from wildfires in British Columbia and Washington continue to affect air quality in much of northern Oregon today. Meanwhile, smoke from multiple wildfires again hovers over southwest Oregon. Mostly dry thunderstorms are predicted through Friday in southern and eastern Oregon, which could result in lightning-sparked fires.


Many ODF districts and forest protective associations are in high or extreme fire danger with tightened restrictions on activities linked to fire starts. Check ODF's fire restrictions and closures web page for the latest details at http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx.

Friday, September 25, 2015

As wildfires subside, prescribed burning begins

Many Oregon forest landowners are planning controlled burns to occur whenever wildfire danger subsides in their areas. These deliberate fires meet a twofold purpose:

§  Prepare logged sites for replanting of young trees
§  Reduce fuel loads to lower the risk of wildfires next summer

Unlike wildfires, which occur under the worst of conditions, prescribed burns are conducted only when weather and wind patterns are optimal to carry smoke up and away from communities and popular recreation sites. And forest operators and wildland fire agencies staff the sites with fire engines and personnel to prevent the burns from spreading outside of designated burn units.

The Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) meteorologists nail the forecast much of the time. But wind shifts occasionally push some smoke from prescribed burns into populated areas. However, most agree the tradeoff is well worth it. Some 150,000 to 200,000 acres of forestland undergo prescribed burn treatments annually in the state, and the resulting clean-up of logging debris and excess vegetation greatly reduces the risk of damaging wildfires on those lands during the summer.

 The high intensity of a wildfire burning in a fuel-rich forest often does long-term damage, wiping out entire tree stands and in some instances sterilizing the soil. In contrast, a wildfire in a fire-treated forest typically leaves many of the trees alive.

More information about prescribed forest burning and smoke management can be found on the Department of Forestry website,

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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 about current wildfires. Please keep your posts civil and free of profanity.

Current wildfire info

National weather forecasters are predicting the summer of 2018 will see above average temperatures and below average rainfall. Drought has already been declared in a number of counties in eastern and southern Oregon, with northwest Oregon also unusually dry for June. These conditions set the stage for potentially large, fast-moving wildfires.

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. In total there are about 30.4 million 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.