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, August 8, 2016

ODF firefighters respond to several lightning-caused fires in NEO District

Contact: Jamie Knight, 541-786-2039
 Thunderstorms in northeastern Oregon sparked several fires over the weekend. The storms, which started Friday evening and lasted into Sunday morning, were mostly dry, with little to no rain reaching the ground. Oregon Department of Forestry firefighting resources responded to numerous fires on ODF-protected lands and also assisted cooperators with several other fires.

La Grande/Baker Unit
Thorn Creek: A one-tenth-acre fire near Thief Valley Reservoir; lightning caused; now controlled and contained.

Smith Creek: A one-tenth-acre fire near the East Fork of Birch Creek; lightning caused; controlled and contained.

The following fires are being managed by the High Desert Type 3 Incident Management Team as a complex located near Pedro Mountain in Baker County:
  • Pedro Mountain Fire:  Seven acres; lightning caused; controlled.
  • Pedro Mountain 2 Fire: Approximately two acres; lightning caused; controlled.
  • North Dixie Creek Fire: Approximately two acres; lightning caused; controlled.
  • Tater Gulch Fire: Approximately one-half acre; lightning caused; controlled.
In addition, ODF resources assisted the Lookout/Glasgow Rangeland Fire Protection Association on the Hole in the Wall Fire near Richland, Oregon. This fire is approximately 100 acres in size, burning in grass and sagebrush. The fire is now controlled and contained.

Northeast Oregon District and Baker Unit resources are also continuing to assist on the Rail Fire near Unity, Oregon. ODF resources are working with the Northwest Incident Management Team 12 to minimize exposure and continued impacts to private lands. There has been no further growth on private lands. Approximately eight acres of private lands have burned to date. Cause of the fire is under investigation.

Pendleton Unit
Gibbon Fire: Approximately 50 acres. The fire originated on tribal fee lands protected by ODF. Approximately 12 acres are burning on lands protected by ODF. The remainder of the fire is on the Umatilla National Forest. The fire is embedded in a brushy timber stringer, which will challenge firefighters today. The Gibbon Fire is on extremely steep ground. Cause is lightning. ODF resources including two Single-Engine Air Tankers (SEATs), which  responded to this fire on Sunday. A Type 1 helicopter, a Type 2 helicopter and an Interagency Hotshot crew have been assigned to the fire for today. The fire is being managed by a combination of interagency resources.

Fire resources have been spread thin around the region, so minimizing human-caused fire starts is important. The public is reminded that ODF is currently in Regulated-Use Closure in the Northeast Oregon District, and federal lands are currently under public use restrictions. Current fire restrictions for forestlands in Northeast Oregon can be found at is the spot for current fire information in the Blue Mountains.

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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 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.