Current situation

Rain will move across much of the region today, Oct. 5, diminishing over the weekend. Temperatures will remain below average. Winds will vary across the region as weather systems arrive and depart. The potential for large fire initiation over the region is minimal due to the wet and cool weather today and lingering through the weekend. Fire restrictions in different parts of the state began to be lowered last week based on the local fuel conditions. Check with your local district or forest protection association for restrictions on activities linked to fire starts or use ODF's fire restrictions and closures web page for the latest details at https://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Wildfire knows no season


April 21, 2016

Contact: Kristin Babbs, president
Keep Oregon Green Association
503-945-7499, Kristin.a.babbs@oregon.gov

May is Oregon Wildfire Awareness Month. Oregon experiences its heaviest wildfire activity during the summer, but fires occur all seasons of the year including spring. During May, federal, state, tribal and local fire agencies will be spreading the word about wildfire prevention and the steps Oregonians can take to stop most fires before they start.

At stake: lives, property, forests
When it comes to preventing wildfires, there’s a lot at stake – lives, personal property, and the many values provided by Oregon’s forests and rangelands. During the 2015 wildfire season, about 1.6 million acres were consumed by wildfire across the Pacific Northwest, including 630,000 acres in Oregon. Some 675 structures were lost - many of them permanent residences. And tragically, three firefighters were killed. Key wildlife habitats, including those of the beleaguered greater sage grouse, went up in smoke.

In Oregon alone, some 850 human-caused fires ravaged the landscape. And on just the forest and rangelands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry, these “people” fires burned nearly 87,000 acres. But wildfire prevention educators are not pointing fingers. In the extreme weather conditions of last summer nearly any fire start, whether human or lightning caused, had potential to spread into a raging wildfire.

Wildfires can start at home
Wildfires that occur in the wildland-urban interface often are started by human activity and then spread to the forest. Once underway a fire follows the fuel, whether it is trees or houses. Fortunately, this grave threat to lives and property can be dramatically reduced.

“Simple prevention strategies will make the strongest impact on your home, family and community safety,” said Kristin Babbs, president of the Keep Oregon Green Association.

Spring is the perfect time, she said, to remove dead, flammable vegetation and limb up trees around the yard.

“When clearing brush and vegetation from around the home, property owners should also keep in mind the access needed by larger fire trucks,” said State Fire Marshal Jim Walker. “Long driveways should be at least 12 feet wide, have 10 feet of vegetation clearance from the centerline to the edge of the driveway, and about 14 feet of overhead clearance. Having an adequate turnaround area is critical for firefighter.”

To get an early start on Wildfire Awareness Month, join your neighbors in reducing your community’s wildfire risk by taking part in National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on Saturday, May 7. The National Fire Protection Association has teamed up with State Farm Insurance to encourage residents to commit a couple of hours, or the entire day, to help raise wildfire awareness and work together on projects that can help protect homes and entire communities from the threat of fire.

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Comments and questions

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 predictions that Oregon would see above average temperatures and below average rainfall in the summer of 2018 proved true. Almost all of Oregon was abnormally dry this summer, with a majority of the state in moderate to severe drought. Many areas posted record high temperatures or record strings of hot days. 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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About Me

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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.