Current situation

Widespread rain and unseasonably cool temperatures in Oregon have dampened existing fires and prevented new ones, easing the strain on firefighting resources. At the same time, wet conditions are making it harder on firefighters trying to remove equipment and repair the impacts from suppression efforts. In steep areas that burned earlier this summer, mudflows, rockslides and fire-weakened trees falling are concerns.






















Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Dry Gulch Fire reaches 15,500 acres

Oregon Dept. of Forestry
Incident Management Team 3
Link Smith, incident commander

Update Sept. 14, afternoon 

Halfway, OR – The Dry Gulch Fire is currently estimated at 15,500 acres. Oregon Department of Forestry’s Type 1 Incident Management Team 3, led by Incident Commander Link Smith, assumed command of the fire from a local Type 3 organization Monday at noon.

Much of the fire activity since Saturday has been fueled by high winds, growing from a few hundred acres Saturday to well over 10,000 acres by Sunday evening. The fire is burning primarily in lighter fuels such as grass and brush with timber burning in the higher elevations. Rain that hit the area Monday was a welcome relief, but not significant enough to put the fire out. Firefighters will focus much of their attention to the south and east ends of the fire in an effort to slow its spread and keep it away from the Halfway community.

The rain was helpful in reducing fire behavior and allowed Level 3 evacuation levels to be reduced to Level 2. While residents previously under a Level 3 may return to their homes, the wildfire threat still exists and people should remain prepared to leave at a moment’s notice. Just as the rainfall alleviated the fire behavior, a return to warm, windy conditions could also raise the threat.

Areas under a Level 2 evacuation notice, meaning to "Get Ready," include the following areas: Cornucopia Highway to West Wall of the Halfway Valley; West Wall of Halfway Valley; North of Carnahan Road; Hewitt/Holcomb Park; Sag Road; New Bridge; Dry Gulch; Pine Tower Lane; Moody Road.

Fire officials and Baker County Emergency Management will continue to assess the situation and make necessary changes to the evacuation levels as needed. For more information about the Ready Set Go evacuation level system, visit www.wildlandfirersg.org .

While Highway 86 is now open, motorists are asked to stay clear of the area due to high fire traffic.  Major highway and road closure information can also be found by visiting www.tripcheck.com.

To stay current on fire information, visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/drygulchfire2015 or at www.oregon.gov/odf. To check on this fire and others across the country, visit www.inciweb.nwcg.gov.

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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.



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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.