Current situation

Widespread rain and unseasonably cool temperatures in Oregon have dampened existing fires and prevented new ones, easing the strain on firefighting resources. At the same time, wet conditions are making it harder on firefighters trying to remove equipment and repair the impacts from suppression efforts. In steep areas that burned earlier this summer, mudflows, rockslides and fire-weakened trees falling are concerns.






















Sunday, July 31, 2016

Weigh Station Fire update: 9:30 p.m. 07-31-16

Contact: Jamie Knight, 541-786-2039

Firefighters had a productive day on the Weigh Station Fire near Meacham, Oregon. Weather conditions moderated some, providing firefighters the opportunity to work on strengthening fire lines. Helicopters supported crews on the ground by delivering bucket drops to cool hotspots along the lines and support burning operations to remove unburnt islands of fuel. Due to more accurate mapping, the reported fire size has decreased and is approximately 500 acres. The fire is 25 percent contained.

Meacham has been removed from any evacuation notice. The lands north and south of Interstate 84 from the Weigh Station on Deadman Pass to Emigrant Springs State Park are currently at a Level 2 "SET." Residents seeking shelter assistance from American Red Cross can call the Red Cross Dispatch phone, 888-680-1455.

After nearly 24 hours of closure, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has opened the freeway to all traffic. Travelers are advised that firefighting activity continues directly adjacent to the freeway and to use caution when traveling in the fire area. Check www.tripcheck.com for up to date information regarding travel conditions in Oregon.

Ongoing efforts to protect cultural resources in the area have been coordinated with Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR).
This week's weather forecast calls for slightly cooler temperatures and the potential for low relative humidity. High winds are forecast across the region on Tuesday. Firefighters will continue to work over the next two days on strengthening control lines in preparation for the possibility of that event.

The public is reminded that ODF is currently in Regulated Use Closure in northeastern Oregon. Fire managers recommend that recreationists and travelers check the fire regulations before heading out to enjoy the forest.

http://bluemountainfireinfo.blogspot.com/ is the spot for current fire information in the Blue Mountains.

To report a fire, call Blue Mountain Interagency Dispatch, 541-963-7171 or dial 9-1-1.

Department of Forestry
Northeast Oregon District
611 20th Street
La Grande, OR 97850
Phone: 541-963-3168
FAX: 541-962-1058

Weigh Station Fire: 12 p.m. update 07-31-16

Contact: Jamie Knight, 541-786-2039

The Weigh Station Fire burning near Meacham, Oregon, has consumed approximately 700 acres and is uncontained as of this morning. An Interagency Type 3 Incident Command Team has taken control of the fire and is working to strengthen containment lines today. Fire managers are currently assessing the evacuation areas to determine when residents will be allowed to return to the area.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has opened traffic going westbound. Crews are completing hazard tree removal operations along the eastbound lanes. ODOT hopes to have eastbound traffic moving sometime this afternoon when the area is deemed safe for the public. Check www.tripcheck.com for up to date information regarding travel conditions in Oregon.

The fire is burning on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry. Working on the fire today are three Type 1 hand crews, three Type 2 hand crews, the Umatilla National Forest Veteran's Crew, six Oregon Department of Corrections crews, two bulldozers, 13 fire engines, four water tenders, one air attack and two helicopters, along with miscellaneous overhead. Approximately 282 personnel are battling the blaze.

American Red Cross has opened a shelter for evacuees. It is located at Sunrise Middle School in Pendleton. The shelter coordinator can be reached at 541-419-4159.

The near-term weather report calls for continued warm temperatures and low relative humidities. The public is reminded that ODF is currently in Regulated Use Closure in northeastern Oregon. Fire managers recommend that recreationists and travelers check the fire regulations before heading out to enjoy the forest.

http://bluemountainfireinfo.blogspot.com/ is the spot for current fire information in the Blue Mountains.

To report a fire, call Blue Mountain Interagency Dispatch at (541)963-7171 or dial 9-1-1.

Department of Forestry
Northeast Oregon District
611 20th Street
La Grande, OR 97850
Phone: (541) 963-3168
FAX: (541) 962-1058

Conditions have dried out considerably as firefighters battle Weigh Station Fire along I-84

Saturday evening, July 30, 2016

Contact: Jamie Knight, (541) 786-2039

Pendleton, OR- An aggressively burning wildfire is threatening homes and has had Interstate 84 closed for several hours in Northeast Oregon. Level 3 evacuations have been issued both North and South of the interstate for homes near Deadman Pass. The Weigh Station fire has burned over 700 acres as of 8 p.m. and is 0% contained. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

 
Gusty winds and dry fuel conditions are helping to drive the fire. The fire behavior has moderated some with sunset, but the fire is still burning actively in timber and grass. The fire made aggressive runs and displayed group torching in timber stands of Ponderosa pine this afternoon.

 
As the fire is burning actively near I-84, the freeway is closed east bound. Oegon Department of Transportation reports that the freeway is closed eastbound at Exit 216 in Pendleton.  For up to date information concerning closures, please check www.tripcheck.com.


 
Local resources on the fire include nine Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs), one heavy air tanker, two helicopters, one air attack, one lead plane, three dozers, more than 12 engines, one hot shot crew, and various overhead personnel. Firefighters from Umatilla County, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), United States Forest Service (USFS) and Oregon Department of forestry are battling the blaze. The fire is burning on lands protected by and is being managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry.


 
Objectives for tonight including completing containment lines and strengthening lines by firing along them. The Blue Mountain Type 3 Interagency Incident Management Team is taking command of the fire tomorrow morning.


 
The near-term weather report calls for warm temperatures and a chance of thunderstorms. The public is reminded that ODF is currently in Regulated Use Closure in Northeast Oregon. Fire managers recommend that recreationists and travelers check the fire regulations before heading out to enjoy the forest.


 
http://bluemountainfireinfo.blogspot.com/ is your spot for current fire information in the Blue Mountains.

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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Weigh Station Fire expands to 400 acres

The Weigh Station Fire reported Saturday afternoon in the Oregon Dept. of Forestry's Pendleton Unit had spread to 400-plus acres by evening. Resources fighting the fire include: one heavy air tanker, 10 single-engine air tankers, two helicopters, 12 fire engines, three bulldozers and three hand crews. The fire is uncontained. Cause is under investigation.

Weigh Station Fire burning in Pendleton Unit

The 40-plus acre Weigh Station Fire was reported burning in the Oregon Department of Forestry's Pendleton Unit Saturday afternoon. Resources fighting the fire include three heavy tankers, six single-engine air tankers, two helicopters, six fire engines, two hand crews and two bulldozers. Cause is under investigation.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Small fires breaking out amid hot, dry conditions

Douglas Forest Protective Association firefighters responded to the Richardson Road Fire, a natural cover fire, Thursday afternoon about four miles north of Myrtle Creek. DFPA was joined by Myrtle Creek Fire Department, Dillard Fire Department, and Douglas County Fire District 2 in the suppression effort on the fast-moving grass fire. The blaze threatened two structures, a barn, and several out buildings, but no damage was reported. Firefighters stopped the fire at two acres and remained on scene through the evening mopping up hot spots and securing control lines. Cause is under investigation.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Creed Fire in Sherman County burns more than 12,000 acres

The 12,500-acre Creed Fire 20 miles east of the town of Wasco is evidence that the seasonal transition has taken hold across much of Oregon. The blaze reported July 21 is burning in grass and brush fuels on Bureau of Land Management lands. Cause is under investigation. The Creed Fire serves as a reminder to Oregonians to be especially careful when working and recreating in the outdoors.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Cool, damp weather reduces fire activity across the state

Last week's cooler weather accompanied by rain in most areas calmed wildfire activity statewide. ODF's field districts worked on firefighting readiness to prepare for the expected seasonal upturn in fire starts. Oregon and Washington currently have 116 private contract 20-person hand crews available for dispatch to fires. ODF's helicopters and air tankers stand ready, along with fire engines and crews.

The absence of dry lightning has reduced the No. of new fires seen at this point over the past three seasons. Fire managers remind the public to be "fire aware" while enjoying Oregon's forests.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Lmited moisture not enough to reduce fire danger

News Release
July 8, 2016


Contact: Christie Shaw, ODF Central Oregon District Public Information Officer
christie.shaw@oregon.gov
541-263-0661


While central Oregon is in a pattern of cooler than normal weather, and has received precipitation over the last twenty-four hours, fire danger remains high.  The US Drought Monitor for Oregon issued on July 7, 2016, indicates that most lands within the Central Oregon District (COD) fall into the “abnormally dry” category.  This reflects what fire managers are seeing in the forest and current fuel moisture conditions.  Now into Oregon’s fifth year of drought conditions, we continue to see the long term affects to the down material and live vegetation stressed from limited water.

For the next few days firefighters will benefit from the moisture, because it will be more difficult for a “spark” to ignite a fire and rapidly spread.  This is because of the increased moisture in the fine fuels, but these fuels will quickly dry out even with the moderate temperatures expected over the next few days.  “The biggest concern for us now, during the heart of fire season, is that someone assumes the rain has made it safe to burn.  When surrounding fuels dry out in the days following a debris burn, the remnants of that debris burn rekindle and spread to wildland fuels while no one is watching”,
states Mike Shaw, Central Oregon District Forester. 

Debris burning is not allowed on lands protected by the Central Oregon District of the Oregon Department of Forestry.  Contact information for your local ODF Office can be found on ODF’s Central Oregon District website: www.ODFcentraloregon.com

COD remains in a Regulated Use Closure intended to reduce human caused fires.  Year to date there have been thirty-six human caused fires within the District, primarily related to debris burning.  This number is significantly higher than the ten year average of twenty-eight (for the same time period).  These fires are preventable, causing concern for firefighters and fire managers.  While fire managers have the ability to use modern technology to track thunderstorms and staff with additional resources, human caused fires do not allow that as they occur at random times. 

Please report fires to your local 911 dispatch center.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Oregon Dept. of Forestry fire update - July 5, 2016

Wassen Pond Fire (The Dalles Unit, Central Oregon District) - The Wassen Pond Fire was reported at about 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 3, burning four miles west of The Dalles on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry and Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue.

The fire remains at 300 acres this morning (about 30 acres on ODF jurisdiction) and is 75 percent contained. Line construction will continue today to fully contain the fire.

The fire is under Unified Command between ODF and MCFR. Cause remains under investigation.
 
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Monday, July 4, 2016

Oregon Department of Forestry Fire Update | Monday, July 4, 2016

FIRE PREVENTION REMINDER:
Enjoy celebrating our nation's 240th birthday over the remainder of this holiday week-end, but please be safe and particularly careful with fireworks.

NEW FIRES (10 acres or larger reported on ODF-protected lands over the past 24 hours):

Wassen Pond Fire [The Dalles Unit, Central Oregon District] - The Wassen Pond Fire was reported at about 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 3, burning four miles west of The Dalles on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry and Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue.  The fire, under Unified Command between ODF and MCFR, is currently approximately 180 acres (with most of that acreage on MCFR), and hand- and dozer-lined.  Additional resources from ODF, rural fire departments in the area, and the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area are assisting with this fire.  Cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Fire officials in the Columbia River Gorge urge the public to be extremely cautious and wildfire-safe, particularly with fireworks, as firefighting resources are stretched thin in the area and a Red Flag Warning for high winds and low humidity is in effect.

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Friday, July 1, 2016

Fire Program Review Committee completes work

News Release          
June 30, 2016 
                                   
Doug Grafe, 503-945-7204, doug.grafe@oregon.gov
Jamie Paul, 503-945-7435,
Jamie.l.paul@oregon.gov       
Rod Nichols, 503-945-7425,
rod.l.nichols@oregon.gov


The Oregon Department of Forestry has received final recommendations of the 2015-16 Fire Program Review Committee, focused on improving Oregon’s “complete and coordinated wildfire protection system.”

The recommendations conclude a seven-month process and represent the most comprehensive review of the Department’s fire program in over a decade.  Made up of forest landowners and operators, legislators, governor’s staff and agency partners, the committee proposed changes in three categories: sustainable large fire funding, sustainable wildfire organization, and wildfire policy.

Sustainable large fire funding recommendations included:
• Exploring the creation of a trust fund to pay the public share of large wildfire suppression costs on fires within ODF’s jurisdiction and for reducing wildland fire risk;
• Continuing the purchase  of an annual catastrophic wildfire insurance policy to cover firefighting budget overruns in severe seasons, and also examine other insurance products;
• Conducting a study of the cost equity of the state’s protection of west side Bureau of Land Management lands from wildfire.

Sustainable wildfire organization recommendations included exploring several options to improve the state’s “complete and coordinated wildfire protection system” as well as an option to increase “fire severity” funding by $1.5 million. This would add dollars to the Special Purpose Appropriation, spending authority provided by the Legislature to fund additional firefighting resources during severe wildfire seasons.

Wildfire policy improvements concentrated on the agency partnering to conduct new risk analysis studies.  Recommended studies include one to determine the potential of wildfire to move across ownership boundaries, used to allow forest managers to prioritize landscape-level fuels treatments; a study to compare the cost of fighting wildfires in the wildland-urban interface vs. pure forestland and a study to improve prescribed forest burning opportunities and efficiencies.  Prescribed burning is a proven tool to reduce wildfire hazards by removing excess forest vegetation. The committee also recommended that the agency continue to foster coordination between Rangeland Fire Protection Associations and the BLM and other partners with the aim to strengthen fire suppression capability on Oregon’s rangelands. Privately owned rangelands east of the Cascades do not receive wildfire protection from the state.

The full “2015/2016 Fire Program Review Committee Report to the State Forester” is available on the ODF website, Oregon.gov/odf.

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ODF implements Regulated Use Closure on lands protected by Central Oregon District

June 30, 2016


Prineville, Ore--Lands protected by ODF's Central Oregon District (COD) will be placed under a Regulated Use Closure beginning Friday July 1, 2016 at 12:01 am. The Regulated Use Closure applies to private, county, and state owned lands protected by COD in Deschutes, Grant, Hood River, Wasco, Wheeler, Crook, Jefferson, Morrow, Harney, Umatilla, Lake, and Gilliam counties. The intent of the Closure is to limit human caused wildfires. Recent high temperatures have dried wildland fuels and increased the danger of large fire growth. Human caused fires in COD are above the ten year average for the District, w hich concerns fire managers as we enter the heart of fire season with dry fuels, warm temperatures and an increasing possibility of lightning caused fires.

The full Regulated Use Closure Proclamation can be found on the Central Oregon District website: www.ODFcentraloregon.com. The official Closure includes, but is not limited to the following activities:
* Smoking is prohibited while traveling, except in vehicles on improved roads.
* Open fires are prohibited, including campfires, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires, except in designated areas. A map of designated areas is available on COD's website under Fire Information. Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are allowed.
* Chainsaw use is prohibited, between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Chainsaw use is permitted at all other hours, if the following firefighting equipment is present with each operating saw: one axe, one shovel, and one operational 8 ounce or larger fire extinguisher. In addition, a fire watch is required at least one hour following the use of each saw.
* Use of motor vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, is prohibited, except on improved roads and except for vehicle use by a landowner and employees of the landowner upon their own land while conducting activities associated with their livelihood.
* Possession of the following firefighting equipment is required while traveling in a motorized vehicle, except on federal and state highways, county roads and driveways: one shovel and one gallon of water or one operational 2?1/2 pound or larger fire extinguisher, except all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles which must be equipped with an approved spark arrestor in good working condition.
* Mowing of dried grass with power driven equipment is prohibited, between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., except for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.
* Use of fireworks and blasting is prohibited.

Open fires are allowed by permit only, please contact your local ODF office for information. Exploding targets, tracer ammunition and sky lanterns are prohibited during fire season.

For information on restrictions on public lands contact your local US Forest Service ranger district office or Bureau of Land Management district office.
Contact Info:
Christie Shaw
Public Information Officer
541-263-0661
christie.shaw@oregon.gov
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Fire Season begins July 5 in West Oregon District

News Release              
June 30, 2016                                      
Contact: Pat MacMeekin
541-929-9165

Patrick.a.macmeekin@oregon.gov


Due to increasing fire danger, the Oregon Department of Forestry has officially declared that fire season will go into effect at 1 a.m. Tuesday, July 5, in the West Oregon District. This area includes private, state, county and Bureau of Land Management forestlands protected by ODF in Benton, Polk, Lincoln and southern Yamhill counties.

Fire season requirements will be in effect for industrial operations occurring in the West Oregon District. Operations are required to have fire prevention and firefighting equipment at the operation site and provide a fire watch on each operation after equipment is shut down. This includes: fire tools and fire tool box for the operation, as well as fire tools and extinguishers for vehicles. Operations must meet the water supply requirements, pump requirements, power saw requirements, spark arrester requirements, and cable operation requirements.

In addition, open burning has been banned in Benton and Polk counties. These bans are implemented in cooperation with local fire defense boards and ODF, and will remain in effect until significant rains begin in the fall.

Fire season is declared each year based on weather conditions and fire danger. As forest vegetation dries due to warmer temperatures and less rain, fire danger increases. As the fire season progresses, further restrictions will be put in effect on both public and forest operations to reduce the chance of wildfires. Extra precautions need to be taken by forest users and forest workers to prevent fires from starting.

For more information on fire season requirements, contact the West Oregon District at:
541-929-3266 Philomath Office
503-934-8146 Dallas Office
541-366-2273 Toledo Office
Or visit the Oregon Dept. of Forestry website at www.oregon.gov/ODF  

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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. 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.





Followers

About Me

My photo
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.