Current situation

Winter and spring see lots of controlled burns in Oregon to eliminate piles of woody debris left over after logging or thinning. Embers buried in the ashes of these pile burns can sometimes reignite even days after a fire appears to be out, especially if winds blow away ashy debris. The same winds can then fan smoldering embers back to life. That's why it's a good idea to keep checking old pile burns to ensure no hot spots have rekindled.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Dry Gulch Fire expands to 12,000 acres

Dry Gulch Fire Information

Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015, 9 p.m.

Fire Information: (541) 786-0501

Dry Gulch Fire exhibits extreme behavior

The Dry Gulch fire burning seven miles northwest of Richland, Oregon, has burned approximately 12,000 acres. Due to the rapidly changing fire environment, evacuation orders have been issued and can rapidly change according to the situation.

Level 3 Evacuation (GO) orders have been issued for:
*77 road from McBride Campground to Highway 86
*The West Wall of the Halfway Valley
*Pine Town Lane east of Halfway
*New Bridge to Carnahan Lane
*Carnahan Lane to Hewitt Park
*Along the Powder River arm to Sag Road and Sag Road to Highway 86
Level 2 Evacuation (SET) orders have been issued for:
*Dry Gulch
*New Bridge.
*Between Carnahan Lane and Moody Road
*Cornucopia Highway and the West Wall of the Halfway Valley

Sunday's operations: Firefighters worked to assess opportunities for fire lines and used aircraft and heavy equipment to establish fire lines where fire behavior allowed. The fire burned extremely actively, pushed by gusty winds and low relative humidity. Structure protection and public and firefighter safety took precedence in Sunday's operations. Due to the increase in size and complexity, an ODF Type 1 Team (Smith) was been ordered and will take command of the fire Monday.

Weather and Fire Behavior: The forecast Sunday evening called for clear conditions with gusty winds up to 18 m.p.h. from the Northwest. Humidity recovery was expected to be poor Sunday evening. Weather for Monday is expected to be mostly clear with lighter winds and lower temperatures.

Road Closures
Road closures have been implemented for public and firefighter safety and include:
-Eagle Creek Road from New Bridge
-77 Road from McBride Campground to Highway 86
-Highway 86 from Richland to Halfway
Quick Facts Incident Summary
Size: 12,000 acres
Fire Containment: 0%
Incident Commander: Mike McDonnall
Total Personnel: 150
Oregon Department of Forestry, Bureau of Land Management, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest
and Eagle Valley Rural Fire District
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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, in the summer of 2017 a series of heatwaves and a prolonged stretch of dry weather created conditions that dried forest fuels, allowing fires to start and spread. The result was more than a thousand fires on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry.Ninety-five percent of these were put out at less than 10 acres.

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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.