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.







Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Grizzly Bear Complex update - 09-02-15

SW corner of Grizzly Complex cooled down by helicopter water drops yesterday in Wenaha drainage

      Elgin, Ore. – Fire managers are keeping an eye on the southwest corner of the 74,496-acre Grizzly Bear Complex Fire as dry, large ground fuels keep the fire burning to the west through the Wenaha drainage. A dozer-created fire line along FR 6415 from the 62 Road to the edge of the wilderness north of Elk Flat has been prepared to stop movement of the fire to the south and air attack and helicopters flew over the area yesterday, reporting fire movement and cooling the fire down with water drops.   

A 10-person fire-use module has moved into a spike camp at the southwest corner of the Bear Ridge Fire burning a mile north of the main body of the Complex. The module is monitoring the fire that has an established fire line along its western perimeter. Infrared flights over the 935-acre fire continue to show heat along its southeast leg. Fire lines are preventing movement south of the Misery Trail. The fire is uncontained.

Crews continue to protect cabins in the Slick Ear and Little Turkey area. Eight miles of fire line along the 64 Road from the north along the western boundary of the Wilderness are prepared with four more miles left to go.

The fire burning along the eastern edge of the Complex north of Grouse Flats continues to move to the northeast toward a prepared dozer line at the Wilderness boundary. Hand line is being built up Driveway Ridge to connect with FR 40. Small burnouts and water drops along the fire front there are slowing the fire down before it reaches these fire lines.

Along the southern perimeter of the Complex, fire lines are being mopped up with the support of 305 members of the Oregon National Guard. Firefighters that have been working on the Complex for nearly two weeks are being encouraged by fire officials to get an extra hour or two of rest at night, if possible, to help reduce fatigue.

Heavy equipment and firefighters will continue today to improve and brush out the 64 Road from the south along the western perimeter of the Wilderness to meet that being constructed from the north.  Branch officials estimate another six to seven days to complete that fire line.


Grizzly Bear Complex Fire quick facts:
 
Fire Complex Size: 74,496 acres

Containment: 23%

Start Date: August 13, 2015

Location: 20 miles SE of Dayton, WA, burning on Umatilla National Forest and private lands protected by the Oregon Dept. of Forestry and Washington Dept. of Natural Resources.

Hazards: Dry fuels with the potential for rapid fire growth with crowning, spotting and wind-driven runs, poor visibility, poor roads.

Values at Risk: Public safety, Communities of Troy, Grouse Flats, Eden Bench; Slick Ear, Turkey Tail and Ski Bluewood recreation sites; Long Meadows Guard Station; Historic Hoodoo lookout; Communications facilities.

Cause: Lightning

Personnel: 1,056

Resources:
24 Crews, 34 Engines, 5 Helicopters

Structures Lost: 33 (5 primary residences)

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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. 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.