Current situation

Sunny and dry conditions again prevail across Oregon this week. Mild temperatures will give way to warmer conditions, melting snow and drying fuels faster. This will raise fire risk across the state. There have already been twice as many wildfires on ODF-protected land compared to the same time last year, with more than twice as many acres burned.

May is Wildfire Awareness Month, a time when homeowners are urged to take steps to reduce the risk of wildfire around their house and other structures. Among these are clearing debris from roofs and gutters, cutting back brush from around structures, and removing lower branches from trees.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Difficult Terrain Challenges Firefighters on the Gibbon Fire

Steep terrain continues to challenge firefighters on the 100-acre lightning sparked Gibbon Fire.  The fire is burning in brush and timber stringers in the area of Meacham Creek/Stumbough Ridge, about 20 miles east of Pendleton.  The fire originated on Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) fee lands that are protected by Oregon Department of Forestry.  ODF is leading the management of this fire in conjunction with the Umatilla National Forest with a Type 3 management organization.  Cooperators also include the Union Pacific Railroad and CTUIR. 

Yesterday crews worked to build direct fire lines where it was safe to do so, and to construct indirect fire line to support burning operations.  Because of the difficult terrain, fire managers feel that burning will bring the fire to areas where it is safer for firefighters to directly engage on the fire.  Two helicopters helped crews on the ground yesterday by slowing fire spread and cooling hotspots, as well as supporting burning operations along the east and north sides. 

Today’s objectives are to continue burning out on the north side of the fire, if weather conditions allow.  Also, continuing to secure the line along the railroad tracks and mopping up that portion of the fire is a priority for fire managers.  The La Grande Interagency Hot Shot Crew, a Type 1 helicopter, a Type 2 helicopter, six engines and a Type 2 hand crew will be working the fire today.  Approximately 51 personnel are assigned to the fire.

While temperatures the past two days has been more moderate and the fire received light rainfall, the return to warmer and dry conditions is expected mid-week, with the potential for more thunderstorms this weekend.

Fire managers would like to remind people that fire restrictions are in place on ODF-protected lands.

Fire statistics are for the current year and the average over the past 10 years for the 16 million acres of private and public forestland protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

January 1, 2016, through Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016:

Lightning-caused fires: 59 fires burned 2,218 acres
Human-caused fires: 418 fires burned 468 acres
Total: 477 fires burned 2,686 acres

10-year average (for this period of the year):

Lightning-caused fires: 200 fires burned 19,825 acres
Human-caused fires: 398 fires burned 4,177 acres
Total: 598 fires burned 24,002 acres

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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:

Current wildfire info

Cool, wet weather in the winter of 2016-17 ended Oregon's long drought and left a thick mountain snowpack. It didn't take long for that to melt and vegetation to dry out due to a series of heatwaves and a prolonged stretch of dry weather over the summer. As forest fuels dried, fires started and spread, many from lands adjacent to those protected by ODF, such as the Chetco Bar Fire in Curry County. That one fire accounted for 46% of the 47,537 acres of land protected by ODF which burned in 2017. Of fires originating on ODF-protected land, 95% were put out at less than 10 acres.

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.


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.