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.







Tuesday, October 18, 2016

2016 Fire Season ends

Oct. 14, 2016                         

Contact: Tom Fields, 503-945-7440, tom.fields@oregon.gov

The end of the 2016 fire season caps off a successful summer following three tumultuous seasons. The Oregon Department of Forestry, which protects roughly 16 million acres of private, state and federal lands, officially ended fire season today (Friday, Oct. 14, 2016), with the Central Oregon District being the last to lift restrictions.

ODF and its fire protective association partners suppressed 807 fires in 2016 that burned 5,554 acres and cost about $17.4 million. In comparison, the volatile fire seasons from 2013-2015 accounted for an annual average of 81,467 acres and about $88 million in fire suppression costs.

"Overall, we are pleased with the outcome of the 2016 fire season," said ODF Fire Protection Deputy Chief Ron Graham. "Thanks to aggressive and safe firefighting, we were able to keep several fires with great potential small in scale while keeping firefighter injuries to a minimum. We are thankful for our partners within Oregon's complete and coordinated fire protection system, including forest landowners, rural fire districts, and federal and state partners that played key roles throughout the fire season."

While acres burned were significantly less than normal, the number of human-caused fires was well above average. ODF's fire statistics show that more than 90 percent of the ignitions in 2016 resulted from people, up nearly 25 percent from the average. Graham said there is still a lot of work to be done through prevention.

"Fire prevention remains our top priority," he said. "Human-caused fires, especially debris burning and illegal, abandoned campfires continue to raise concern. We are constantly looking for new ways to raise awareness to reduce these unnecessary and careless fires."

The end of fire season does not mean the end of fire prevention. The public is urged to continue to practice vigilance with any activity associated with fire. When burning yard debris, do so during daylight hours under calm conditions. Scrape a fire trail down to mineral soil completely around burn piles. Keep piles small and manageable, feeding the fire periodically from larger piles. Monitor the burn carefully and keep a shovel and charged garden hose at the ready.

Just like a campfire, never leave the burn pile unattended and put the fire completely out before leaving. Revisit the burn site regularly over several weeks to make sure the fire has not rekindled.

Burn piles, especially tightly compacted piles, can hold heat and smolder for many weeks, rekindling when the temperature goes up and the wind blows. Residents should contact their local fire department before conducting any burning as restrictions vary among local fire districts.

Fire season is declared and terminated on a district-by-district basis based on fire danger conditions. Walker Range Fire Patrol, which provides protection for ODF near Crescent, was the first to declare fire season on June 1.

Below is a list of ODF Fire Protection Districts and their fire season start and end dates:

- Walker Range Fire Patrol Association, June 1-Oct. 13
- Central Oregon District, June 3-Oct. 14
- Klamath-Lake District, June 3-Oct. 13
- Southwest Oregon District, June 3-Oct. 13
- Douglas Forest Protective Association, June 8-Oct. 5
- Coos Forest Protective Association, June 24-Oct. 6
- Northeast Oregon District, June 28-Oct. 13
- South Cascade District, June 28-Oct. 5
- Western Lane District, June 28-Oct. 6
- North Cascade District, June 30-Oct. 1
- West Oregon District, July 5-Oct. 4
- Northwest Oregon District, July 30-Oct. 4
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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: 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.