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.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Withers Fire update - Aug. 19, 2016 evening

Fire Information:
541-947-6243 or 541-219-6863

With temperatures soaring into the 90s today, firefighters continued working on containing and mopping up the Withers Fire.

The Level 1 Evacuation for Paisley will be lifted at 6 p.m. thanks to the effort of firefighting resources from throughout the West. Their hard work and commitment to public and firefighter safety made it possible to lift the evacuation this evening.

The fire is located west of Oregon State Highway 31. The fire was one of four started Wednesday.

A local Type 3 incident management team continues working on the fire.

Smoke impacts to local communities should be minimal. However, there may still be pockets of visible smoke and active fire within the perimeter. 

While Hwy 31 remains open, there is a significant increase in fire traffic. Minimizing travel in the area if possible will help both firefighter and public safety. There is also a likelihood of increased air traffic in the area as part of firefighting efforts. A temporary flight restriction is in place over the fire area.

As hot and dry conditions continue into the weekend – not only in South Central Oregon, but across the western United States – the National Interagency Fire Center has elevated the National Preparedness Level to 4 on a scale from 1 to 5. This means more than three Geographic Areas are experiencing Type 1 and Type 2 incidents, there is competition for resources and 60 percent of Type 1 and Type 2 Incident Management Teams and crews are committed. As the Withers Fire approaches containment and control, firefighting resources are prepared to continue their important mission locally, regionally and nationally as needed.

Fire danger remains high and the public should be aware of their surroundings and prepared for changing conditions.

Residents and area visitors are asked to be vigilant with anything with a flame or spark. Also, respect current Public Use and Fire Restrictions on federal and state lands in Lake and Klamath counties. It only takes one coal or ember to spark a wildfire!

The cause is under investigation. However, the evidence indicates arson and it is now a criminal investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call 541-947-2504.

Expected Fire Behavior: Conditions continue to be hot and dry with relatively low fuel moistures. Increased fire activity is likely as temperatures increase.

Weather: High temperatures will be in the 90s with low humidity.

Road Closures: Forest Road No. 33, also known as the River Road, from the junction with Forest Road No. 3315 to Jones Crossing, as well as Forest Road No. 3315 from the junction with Forest Road No. 33 to the intersection with Forest Road No. 3360 are closed.

Evacuation Information: Evacuation levels are being evaluated this morning and may be modified. There is a Level 3 Evacuation for campgrounds along the Chewaucan River and any residences along the River Road – anyone in this area needs to leave immediately. The Level 1 Evacuation for the town of Paisley will be lifted today at 6 p.m.

Size: 3,424 acres

Containment: 56 percent

Resources: 2 helicopters, 7 hand crews, 24 fire engines, 6 water tenders and 3 bulldozers. Total personnel: 350.

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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 snowpack at higher elevations which will take some time to melt. However, in the summer of 2017 a series of heatwaves and a prolonged stretch of dry weather created conditions that dried forest fuels, allowing fires to start and spread. The result was more than a thousand fires on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry.Ninety-five percent of these 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.