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.







Saturday, August 13, 2016

Wildfire in Selma Burns Three Homes

Contact: Brian Ballou, ODF SWO District, (541) 621-4156
www.swofire.com

Fire crews worked through the night cooling hot spots and monitoring fire lines on the Redwood Highway Fire in Selma, located on Highway 199 near the California border in southwest Oregon. Cooler nighttime temperatures and calm winds allowed for continued progress to be made on the fire line, which is 87 percent contained. The fire size remains at approximately 50 acres. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

No other fires larger than 100 acres were reported Friday or early Saturday on Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands.

Just before sunrise today on the Redwood Highway Fire, firefighters discovered a small spot fire 1,000 feet outside of the current fire line. Within minutes, firefighters extinguished the flames and formed a wet line along the perimeter. Throughout the day, ground crews and aircraft will continue to monitor fire activity and watch for burning snags, spotting and flare ups. The goal is to ensure the fire perimeter is 100 percent lined by this evening.

Firefighters working on structural protection this morning uncovered three homes, and at least five outbuildings destroyed by the fire. It was originally thought by fire crews that only two homes were lost on Deer Creek Road in Selma; however, the daylight revealed that there were two homes on one property, a main house and guest house. All residents managed to safely evacuate. Firefighters will continue to search for additional structures damaged or threatened in the burned area.

Deer Creek Road remains under evacuation this morning. Residents on the 975 block and above on Deer Creek Rd. are at a "Be Set" Level 2 evacuation notice. Residents on the 974 block and below on Deer Creek Rd. remain at a "Go" Level 3 evacuation status. The road is closed to the public. After an additional assessment early this afternoon, Incident Command will revisit the option of reopening the road and changing evacuation levels. Residents seeking shelter assistance should visit the evacuation center, located in Cave Junction at 200 W. Watkins Street.

Redwood Highway is open but travelers are advised to drive slowly through the Selma area. Firefighting operations are still occurring next to the road and areas of smoke may be present.

The weather forecast today in southwest Oregon includes a Red Flag Warning for the Rogue River, Applegate River and Illinois River basins. Hot temperatures, 100-105, low relative humidity and potentially strong afternoon winds are expected across the region.

In the rest of Oregon, temperatures along the Coast remain moderate with highs in the mid-70s and lows in the mid-50s. East of the Cascades, high temperatures are expected in low-to-mid 90s and light winds. On Sunday, there is a chance of thunderstorms in the southern Oregon Cascade Range and the Klamath Basin.

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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.



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. 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.