Current situation

Fire season on ODF-protected land has ended in most of Oregon as cooler temperatures, shorter days and moister conditions settle over much of the state. Exceptions are ODF-protected lands in the southern border counties of Jackson, Josephine, Klamath and Lake.






























Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Northeast Oregon firefighters catch Hay Creek Fire at 74 acres

Firefighters from ODF's Northeast Oregon District were able to catch at 74 acres a fire burning in grass and timber over the weekend about three miles northwest of Weston Station. 

The Hay Creek Fire started just after 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 6. ODF responded with four engines - two from the Pendleton unit, one from the Wallowa unit and one from La Grande. The landowner also responded as did East Umatilla Rural Fire Department, Tribal Fire, Pendleton Fire, Milton-Freewater Fire, U.S. Forest Service and Oregon Department of Transportation. Oregon State Police had to temporarily close Highway 204 because of the fire. The fire was contained later that evening. The cause is under investigation.

ODF reciprocates for help from California this summer by sending four engines to Northern California fires

 

In making the case for the U.S. to lend supplies to nations fighting the Nazis in Europe in 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt likened it to a good neighbor who "lends a garden hose to the neighbor so he can put out his house fire." Similarly, when states find their firefighting resources stretched thin by big wildfires, they call on other states to send whatever resources they can spare. Yesterday, ODF's Southwest and Klamath-Lake districts bordering California sent four engines and their two-person crews to help Northern California. Two of the engines came from Grants Pass, one from Klamath Falls and one from Medford. A ninth ODF employee also went from Medford as overhead.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
Because of more than a dozen wind-driven wildfires, California's governor has declared a fire emergency in three counties - Napa, Sonoma and Yuba. These fast-moving fires have caused fatalities, burned down homes and businesses, caused hurried evacuations and fully engaged local and state firefighting resources. The ODF teams will be put to use where the Northern California incident command deems they are needed most.   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
This reciprocal aid is an important way the nation's is able to ensure individual states or regions are not overwhelmed during peak fire events. For example, in 2016 after an unusually calm fire season in the Northwest, ODF sent personnel to help fight forest fires in the Southeast, where a long drought led to severe wildfires. Those fires pummeled North Carolina and northern Georgia in October and November. This year, North Carolina returned the favor, being one of about a dozen or more states that sent resources to Oregon during our busy summer wildfire season.                                                   
 
Another state that helped this summer was California, which sent teams north into ODF's Southwest Oregon District during what District Forester Dave Larson calls "The Siege of 2017." Over eight weeks in August and September, district firefighters battled some 317 wildfires. At the peak, during a single week in August, ODF responded to 154 wildfires in Josephine and Jackson counties - an average of 22 a day. Cal-Fire, the state agency responsible for fighting wildfires on state-protected lands, sent crews that helped with initial attack.                                                                                           
 
In addition to California resources, private landowners also stepped up. Larson cited Handcock, Murphy Timber, and Weyerhaeuser as three which supplied equipment to supplement ODF forces on initial attack. The Oregon Department of Transportation also lent equipment and other support, including water tenders, masticators and lowboys to move equipment. At the local level, the Rogue Valley Fire Chiefs Association organized three strike teams totaling 15 engines and three support vehicles, drawn from these entities:
 
Jackson County Fire District #3
Jackson County Fire District #4
Jackson County Fire District #5
Jacksonville Fire Department
Medford Fire Rescue
Rogue Valley International Airport Fire
Rogue River Fire District
 
One result of this mutual aid was the Southwest Oregon District was able to contain 97 percent of all wildfires on ODF-protected land to less than 10 acres, and total acres burned to under a thousand. Similar stories could be told from ODF's other districts. Those experiencing fewer wildfires were able to temporarily loan equipment and crews where the need was greatest. For example, over the course of this fire season the Tillamook District was able to spare equipment and about two dozen staff to help out in parts of the state experiencing high wildfire volumes. In total they spent the equivalent of 458 days fighting fires, including helping protect private lands threatened by the Whitewater Fire in the northern Cascades. Such loans keep staff productively engaged, adding to their experience and honing their skills for use back on their home district.
Despite cooler overnight temperatures, fire can still pose a danger in Oregon.  This was demonstrated Monday evening when firefighters from the Douglas Forest Protective Association and Camas Valley Rural Fire Department responded to a grass fire about 1.5 miles northeast of Camas Valley in Douglas County.  Crews arrived on scene of the Camas Mountain Fire and attacked the blaze, which was burning through grass at a moderate rate of spread.  Firefighters stopped the Camas Mountain Fire at 3/4 of an acre and remained on scene for about an hour, mopping up hot spots and securing control lines.

Fire officials determined that the Camas Mountain Fire was caused by hot ashes from a wood stove being dumped in dry grass.  While there are no restrictions on using wood stoves insides homes, it is important that the ashes are disposed of properly so they don’t start a wildfire.  Ash from a fireplace or wood stove can retain enough heat to ignite other combustible material for several days after a fire. 

When cleaning ash from a fireplace or wood stove, follow these tips:

  • Treat all ashes as hot!
  • Never put hot ash into a paper or plastic bag, cardboard box or other similar container.  The only type of container suitable for ash storage is a metal or ceramic container with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Spray water on the ash prior to attaching the metal lid to the container and allow them to completely cool outside, away from your home.
  • Never store a metal ash container (with ashes in them) on a deck, in a garage, or in any location that may allow heat to transfer from the hot coals to nearby flammable items.
  • Once the ash has completely cooled, only dump them in areas free of flammable vegetation.
  • As an additional precaution, have a garden hose and shovel on site when you dump the ash so you can spray water and mix the ash to ensure they are completely out.
# # #

Monday, October 9, 2017

National Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 8-14

 Ever since 1925, National Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday of the week when Oct. 9 falls in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire. That conflagration started on Oct. 8, 1871 but did most of its damage the next day. The fire killed more than 250 people, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. A hundred thousand people were left homeless by the fire. Contrary to urban myth, the blaze was not started by Mrs. O'Leary's cow knocking over a lantern. Although the fire did start near the O'Leary barn, a news writer admitted years afterward that he had made up the story, according to Chicago historian Robert Cromie.

 

The most devastating forest fire in American history started on the same day as the Great Chicago Fire. However, the Peshtigo Fire drew little notice because it started in a rural area of Wisconsin and newspapers focused on the damage to more populous Chicago.

 

Contemporary accounts say the Peshtigo blaze began when several railroad workers clearing land for tracks in northeast Wisconsin unintentionally started a brush fire. Before long, the fast-moving flames were whipping through the area 'like a tornado,' some survivors said. The fire burned down a dozen towns, killed at least 1,152 people and possibly hundreds more, and scorched 1.2 million acres before it ended. The small town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin suffered the worst damage. Within an hour, the entire town had been destroyed and half its population had perished.
 
Those who survived the Chicago and Peshtigo fires never forgot what they'd been through. The fires also changed the way that firefighters and public officials thought about fire safety. On the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, the Fire Marshals Association of North America (today known as the International Fire Marshals Association), decided that the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire should be observed in a way that would keep the public informed about the importance of fire prevention.  By 1920, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the anniversary as the first National Fire Prevention Day. Two years later, the entire week during which the anniversary falls was declared Fire Prevention Week. Every president since Calvin Coolidge in 1925 has proclaimed National Fire Prevention Week.

Although not as common as summer fire starts, Oregon has also seen destructive wildfires in October, one reason fire season usually lasts through at least mid-October. One of the worst years for October wildfires in Oregon was 1987. That year, on Oct. 9 the Shady Lane Fire started in Polk County. It burned more than 1,000 acres before over 300 fire fighters managed to contain it. The next day, the 20-acre Alder Creek Fire threatened a dozen homes east of Sandy in Clackamas County, and the Wanless Road Fire burned nearly 70 acres of brush and timber northwest of Sheridan. Later in the month, a fire south of Coos Bay burned some 225 acres. The Rockhouse Creek Fire, which started on Oct. 18, burned about 5,000 acres west of Dallas, destroying about 35% of the city's watershed.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Campaign to educate eclipse visitors about Oregon’s fire season paid off in fewer wildfires

Above: Visitors coming to Oregon for the Aug. 21 eclipse were made aware
 of wildfire risks in a statewide campaign this summer. The campaign
likely contributed to a temporary dip in human-caused wildfires during
a two-week period around the eclipse.
SALEM, Ore. — Fears that an influx of people coming to see the solar eclipse in Oregon on Aug. 21 might spark more wildfires didn’t come to pass. In fact, at least on the 16 million acres protected from fire by the Oregon Department of Forestry, the period just before and after the eclipse actually saw fewer human-caused wildfires than normal.

Emergency management planners had estimated as many as a million visitors might come to Oregon for the eclipse. The timing – right at the peak of wildfire season in mid-August – could not have been worse from the viewpoint of wildfire officials. That raised fears that the best viewing locations in the path of totality – fire-prone central and eastern Oregon – would see a spike in wildfires just when resources would be stretched thinnest.

Those concerns prompted ODF to support a vigorous wildfire prevention campaign in conjunction with:

·       Keep Oregon Green

·       Oregon Office of Emergency Management

·       Oregon State Parks

·       Travel Oregon

·       Oregon Department of Transportation

·       Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal

·       Oregon State Police

·       American Red Cross

·       U.S. Forest Service

·       Bureau of Land Management

The campaign included 19 billboards; messaging signs along highways, Portland airport and malls; TV and radio ads; placemats in restaurants; and websites, Facebook and other media platforms.

“We asked visitors to enjoy the eclipse but be careful not to start a wildfire,” says Keep Oregon Green President Kristin Babbs. “

Although fewer people than the expected one million traveled to the path of totality, the hundreds of thousands who did come should have led to increased fire starts. Instead, it appears the campaign’s messaging worked. There was no increase in wildfires on ODF-protected land around the time of the eclipse. Not only that, but during the week before and the week after the eclipse, wildfire starts statewide on those lands were actually lower. There were just 62 human-caused wildfire starts during those two weeks compared to 77 starts in 2015, and much lower than the 89 starts in 2016. Human-caused wildfire starts were also lower than the 10-year average of 70.

In the most fire-prone part of the path of totality – central Oregon – there were only three wildfire starts during the two-week influx of eclipse visitors. That was the lowest number for that period since 2008. And it was only half the 10-year average of six wildfire starts on ODF-protected land in central Oregon during those same two weeks.

“We’re happy visitors and Oregonians heeded messages to obey fire restrictions and campfire bans, and to not pull off highways onto dry grass to view the eclipse,” says Babbs. “Every wildfire we prevented was one less destroying resources and putting smoke in the air.”

The careful behavior around the time of the eclipse is even more impressive when viewed against the increase in human-caused wildfires during the 2017 fire season. On ODF-protected land, the number of human-caused wildfires from the start of the year through Sept. 30 was 684, well above the 10-year average of 611. So while humans in 2017 have caused about 12 percent more wildfires than the 10-year average, they caused fewer around the time of the eclipse.

Given the heavy demand on firefighting resources this summer in Oregon and across the West, the dip in new fires around the eclipse was a relief to fire officials. They were already fully engaged before the eclipse with a dozen or more large wildfires on both sides of the Cascades. After eclipse visitors left, more fires started. Through Sept. 30, the Northwest Interagency Coordinating Center has reported a total of more than 70 large wildfires in Oregon.
                                                                                            # # #

Thursday, October 5, 2017

October wildfire stopped in southern Oregon at 9.5 acres

Above: October continues to see some fire starts,
such as the Little Applegate Fire in southern Oregon.
It burned 9.5 acres before being put out an hour after
it was first reported. Photo courtesy of
ODF Southwest Oregon District.
Proof that the 2017 fire season is still in effect came this afternoon when firefighters halted the Little Applegate Fire in southern Oregon about an hour after it was called in. First reported just after 12:30 p.m. as a one-acre  fire, within minutes, the fire began spreading and spotting upslope near two homes off the intersection of Upper Applegate and Little Applegate Roads near the Applegate River. While the two homes were initially threatened by the fire, no homes were lost or damaged by this incident; however, an outbuilding has been deemed a total loss. Firefighters stopped the blaze at 9.5 acres.  

Crews from ODF's Southwest Oregon District, Applegate Valley Fire District, Jacksonville Fire, U.S. Forest Service Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, and the Rogue Valley 2 Strike Team assisted in the suppression of this fire. A special thanks to the U.S. Forest Service for lending their two Type 2 helicopters from the Miller Complex, a group of fires in southwest Jackson County.

District officials thanked their crews and community partners for the continued quick and efficient response to wildfires throughout the region. For video of firefighting efforts, visit the district's Facebook page: @ODFSouthwest.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Regulated forest closure ends in ODF's Central Oregon District


PRINEVILLE, Ore. - Over the last few weeks cooler temperatures and increased precipitation have reduced the fire danger throughout central Oregon. As a result of this reduced fire danger, the Regulated Closure on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Central Oregon District ended today (Tuesday, Oct. 3). These restrictions were in place to limit human-caused fires during high fire danger when rapid fire growth may occur.

While fire danger is reduced, the potential for fires to burn uncontrolled or ignite due to carelessness remains. Prineville Unit Forester Gordon Foster reminds us, "We need the public to maintain a high level of awareness and be vigilant in their prevention actions. The risk of fire is reduced, not eliminated."

Above: It's October but fire season is still in effect 
on lands protected by ODF's Central Oregon District,
 
Fire season is still in effect for the Central Oregon District, with restrictions still in effect on the use of tracer ammunition and exploding targets as well as other forestry activities.

While campfires are allowed on ODF-protected lands in central Oregon, open burning in The Dalles Unit and Prineville-Sisters Unit requires burn permits. This includes yard debris and burning forestry slash. Never leave a fire unattended, whether a campfire or debris burn. To reduce the risk of an uncontrolled fire:
  • always clear the area around the burn area
  • have tools handy
  • follow all requirements on your permit
Other safe burning practices can be found online at www.keeporegongreen.org. Debris burning in the John Day Unit, including the Fossil Sub-Unit, is prohibited during fire season. Information for obtaining burn permits from the Central Oregon District can be found at www.ODFcentraloregon.com.

The Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) for MH-1 and MH-4 in Hood River and Wasco counties has been reduced to Level 1. Requirements for industrial operators and a map of this area can be found at https://gisapps.odf.oregon.gov/firerestrictions/ifpl.html. Fire season restrictions are still in place in COD, including requirements for hand tools, fire watch, equipment standards, and water supply. Smoking is not allowed while working or traveling in an operation area.

ODF’s Central Oregon District includes private lands in Crook, Deschutes, Grant, Hood River, Jefferson, Wasco, Wheeler, Gilliam, Morrow, and Harney counties, as well as small parts of Umatilla and Lake counties. Landowners, local agencies, and land managers may have additional restrictions in place, always check to be certain you are in compliance. Federal land public use restrictions are available at local National Forest offices, or on their websites.

So far in 2017 human-caused fires have accounted for 60 percent of
fires in the Central Oregon District, an increase of 15 percent over the district’s 10-year average. Uncontrolled fires damage our natural resources including air, water, and soil. For additional information on ODF’s Central Oregon District, please visit www.ODFcentraloregon.com

Friday, September 29, 2017

Debris burn starts four-acre fire despite earlier rains


Even though over four inches of rain fell earlier in the week in Columbia County, it took only two to three days of dry weather to allow a debris burn on private land there to escape into surrounding vegetation. The escaped burn scorched four acres before being brought under control by personnel from the Oregon Department of Forestry's Northwest Oregon District. The blaze highlights how even a short period of dry weather can allow fine fuels to dry, making it easier for fire to spread.  
Debris burning remains restricted in many areas throughout the state. For the latest information on restrictions on ODF-protected lands, go to http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx  or check with your local ODF unit or forest protective association for details. 

Above: Debris burning was the cause of this
4-acre fire in Columbia County. Even when bans are lifted,
care needs to be exercised.    

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The regional wildfire preparedness level drops to 3


Above: ODF employee Trevor Madison checks equipment
being returned after a wildfire in southern Oregon
to see if any need repair. Most existing Oregon wildfires
 are largely contained now and in mop up or patrol.
With few new fires in the Pacific Northwest and existing fires largely contained and in mop up or patrol, more firefighting resources have become available regionally. That's true even with the demobilization of the Oregon National Guard and U.S. Army troops from Joint Base Lewis-McChord. This prompted fire officials at the Northwest Interagency Coordinating Center last week to lower the Pacific Northwest's preparedness level from 5, where it has been for more than a month, to 4. They lowered it further on Monday of this week to 3. The wildfire preparedness level nationally has been at 3 since Sept. 22.

A lower preparedness level at the regional level does not mean a lowering of readiness to fight wildfires. It reflects a better match between the availability of firefighting resources and the expected demand for them.

 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Illegal debris burns are still of concern to fire officials

Above: This recent debris pile burn in southern Oregon
escaped and quickly torched half an acre of pasture
before firefighters brought it under control.
Photo by Kyle Reed.
While recent rains and unseasonably cool temperatures took the edge off fire danger in much of Oregon last week, they weren't enough to end fire season. The next few days will see warm temperatures return, with plenty of sunshine over most of the state. A few sunny hours is all it takes to dry out dead grass and other light fuels, allowing them to burn again. 

This was demonstrated last Friday when an illegal debris burn sparked a grass fire about four miles south of Rice Hill in Douglas County. Firefighters from Douglas Forest Protective Association and North Douglas County Fire & EMS responded to the fire near Hogan Road around 3:45 p.m. and attacked the blaze.  Fortunately, crews were able to stop the fire at half an acre of grass. While no livestock or buildings were threatened in that fire, fast-moving grass fires can cause considerable property damage. Such fires can destroy fences, parked vehicles, outbuildings, even homes. Livestock can also be trapped in pastures by flames and injured or killed.    

So far this year there have been 114 fires caused by illegal debris burning. Of those, 17 occurred in September. Because conditions still carry some risk of wildfire, public use restrictions that include bans on backyard debris burning are still in effect in many parts of Oregon. Those found with illegal debris burns can be cited and fined. They may also be held liable for fire suppression costs if their illegal burn turns into a wildfire.
 
To ensure your burn will be done at a safe time, always check local restrictions first. For the latest information on restrictions on ODF-protected lands, go to
http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx  or check with your local ODF unit or forest protective association for details.

 

 

Monday, September 25, 2017

After a wildfire, suppression repair helps prevent further damage to scarred landscapes

After a wildfire is contained and the threat from flames and smoke dies away, the public may think firefighters' work is done. Actually, an important part of every wildfire is the work fire crews do to repair disturbances to the land caused by firefighting efforts. Fire managers use the term “suppression repair” to describe this work that helps the land start to heal.

Before leaving a wildfire, crews may spread brush and rocks onto bare ground that was created during firefighting efforts, whether by dozers or hand crews. Chipping equipment is often brought in to help chip this woody material so it can be spread easily. This reduces the risk of it becoming fuel for a future wildfire, and allows it to more quickly biodegrade while protecting soil until new vegetation can grow. Where fire lines were built on slopes, channels called water bars may be constructed to divert water so soil doesn't erode. This prevents gullies from forming. Culverts are sometimes blocked by debris from fires, and these may also be cleared.


Above: After a wildfire, trees that fell
onto roadways must be cleared,
like this tree that came down during
the Eagle Creek Fire.
To protect public safety, rocks and logs that rolled off burning hillsides onto roads are removed, and fire-weakened trees that could topple onto roads or popular trails may be cut down.  Crews will also remove any flagging, damaged hoses and trash left behind by firefighters as part of their efforts to restore the land to a more natural condition.

Suppression repair can't hide the devastation left by roaring waves of flame that turn a forest into a charred moonscape. But it does ensure that the heroic efforts to stop those flames don't themselves injure the land.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Oregon National Guard makes an invaluable contribution to Oregon's fire protection system


Above: Oregon National Guard members received
the same basic training in wildland firefighting
as seasonal firefighters.
Most of the 250 Oregon National Guard members still engaged on wildfires will be demobilized from wildfires by the end of this week. This is down from the peak of more than 700 who volunteered to help fight wildfires this summer. The troops added capacity to a wildland firefighting system stretched thin by an outbreak of wildfires up and down the Cascades from California to the Columbia Gorge. By early September, the number of Oregon National Guard troops deployed on wildfires was the largest deployed in decades, possibly the largest since 1987 when 1,250 Oregon National Guard troops served on wildfires.

ODF served a coordinating role, arranging for troops to get the same basic training as wildland firefighters. Guard members then helped at a number of fires, including the Horse Prairie Fire on lands protected by the Douglas Forest Protective Association, the High Cascades Complex, and the state's largest wildfire this year - the Chetco Bar Fire in southwest Oregon.


Above: Mopping up hot spots
on thousands of acres was an important role
filled by Oregon National Guard troops.
With persistent wildfires on national forests burning hundreds of thousands of acres, Guard members work mopping up fire perimeters was invaluable. Their efforts helped ensure firelines remained secure. They also staffed control points on roads closed to non-firefighting vehicles.

Another valuable contribution was that of Oregon Army National Guard helicopters, which attacked wildfires from the air. Two Chinook CH-47 helicopters from Pendleton worked first on the Whitewater Fire in the Willamette National Forest east of Detroit, and later on the Chetco Bar Fire. They dropped enough water on wildfires - more than 1.3 million gallons - to fill two Olympic-sized swimming pools.


ODF's Marganne Allen was a liaison to the more than 150 Oregon National Guard troops assigned to the 16,436-acre Horse Prairie Fire. She says she was impressed with the commitment of the guard to their peacetime mission. "They injected so much energy and enthusiasm," she says.

At left: Some of the more than 700 Oregon National Guard members who left families and jobs to volunteer on wildfires this summer.



Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Wildland fires can pose risks other than flames and smoke


Hand crews digging and securing firelines and mopping up wildfires in Oregon face a number of risks from the natural environment. Apart from fire and smoke, the most common risks from nature here may be allergic rashes from the widespread poison oak. Stings by bees and wasps, often irritated by wildfire smoke, are surprisingly common as well. By contrast, even though it is not unusual to see snakes in rural areas, snakebites are rare. However, one bite did occur this year, to a firefighter battling the Horse Prairie Fire in Douglas County, south of Roseburg.  

Oregon is home to 15 species of snake but only one is venomous – the Northern Pacific rattlesnake. Growing to 3 feet in length (rarely to 4 feet), this creature is an important part of the ecosystem, eating mice, rats, squirrels, rabbits, lizards and even other snakes.

Rattlesnakes generally avoid people if they can. Most bites occur when someone steps on a snake cowering in the undergrowth, or when someone reaches a hand into where one is hiding. After a wildfire, the warmth of hot spots at night, such as inside burned out stump holes or beneath burned logs, can be attractive hiding places for these cold-blooded reptiles. Unfortunately, those are the very places hand crews seek out during mop up operations as they attempt to put out any woody debris that is hot to the touch. The firefighter at the Horse Prairie Fire who got bitten by a snake was immediately taken for treatment. Fortunately, no venom was injected and the firefighter was able to return to duty the next day.

As frightened as people can be of rattlesnakes, they have more reason to fear us. From pioneer times on, settlers and their descendants have usually killed rattlesnakes on sight. As a result, the Northern Pacific rattlesnake has been all but exterminated in densely populated areas, such as the Willamette Valley. 


                                                                                      # # #

Monday, September 18, 2017

Rains reduce wildfire danger but fire risk still exists

Above: A few rain showers are not enough
to make burning a debris pile safe yet.
Wait for soaking rains to end fire season,
usually sometime in mid to late October.
Autumn doesn't officially arrive until later this week, but fall-like rains are already bringing relief to firefighters who've faced persistent wildfires on both sides of the Cascades. The rains and accompanying cooler temperatures helped firefighters check the spread of most large existing fires, about 10 of which reported no new growth yesterday.


Cooler weather, however, does not signal the end of fire season. Fuels which have had all summer to dry out will only be superficially wet by the current showers. When the rain stops near the end of this week, we could see dry east winds. Within hours, dead grass, fallen leaves and downed wood can dry out and be able to burn. 


Until fire season is officially declared over, debris burning remains prohibited in most areas. Firefighters have recently had to respond to a number of fires caused by people burning backyard debris piles.


As temperatures drop, the temptation to build a campfire also increases. Fire wardens are discovering and dousing abandoned campfires, which are only allowed in approved, designated campgrounds. Check with your local ODF or forest protective association for details.
 
While fire restrictions have been eased in several areas, fire managers continue to ask everyone to heed caution when working or recreating outdoors. To find the latest information on restrictions on ODF-protected lands, go to


 






 
 
 
 

 


Sunday, September 10, 2017

ODF Daily Fire Update for Sunday, September 10, 2017


Conditions warming and drying Oregon

 

After a recent few days of cool-down, along with some rains, conditions across much of Oregon will be dry and warming, with lower relative humidities and winds in some areas. Changing conditions and continued scarce firefighting resources will contribute to increased levels of fire danger this upcoming week. Therefore, the message for Oregonians continues to be please do everything possible to prevent human-caused wildfires, including following fire restrictions when out in Oregon forestlands. To find the restrictions on ODF-protected lands, go to http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx.

 

New wildfires on ODF-protected forestlands

 

Newsome Creek Fire (Central Oregon District): The Newsome Creek Fire was reported just before 4 p.m. Saturday, September 9, burning on private lands, in juniper, grass, and sagebrush, approximately 23 miles southeast of Prineville near the Maury Mountains. Resources from ODF, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the Post-Paulina Rangeland Fire Protection Association, and local landowners responded and were able stop the fire’s spread by late evening using air resources, dozers, and fire engines. Overnight, dozers completed a containment line around the fire, and firefighters began work to cool hot spots adjacent to the line. Today, the fire is being managed by a local (Type 3) organization comprised of engines, hand crews, and a skidgene, and firefighters are strengthening containment lines and beginning mop-up on the interior of the fire. The fire was mapped at 103 acres. Unless the situation changes, this will be the only report on the Newsome Creek Fire.

 

The Newsome Creek Fire is a holdover fire from passing thunderstorms late last week. Recent cooler temperatures, higher humidity, and precipitation from the thunderstorms provided an opportunity for firefighters to catch this fire. Several other holdover fires from these thunderstorms were contained over the last few days at under an acre. As the weather becomes warmer and drier over the next few days, fire managers anticipate detecting additional holdover fires which have been creeping and smoldering in cooler temperatures from the past few days.

 

Updates on existing Oregon wildfires

Nationwide, close to 8 million acres have burned in wildfires so far this year. About a fourth of those acres have been in Oregon, where some 525,662 acres had burned as of September 3. Of those, an estimated 38,000 acres have been lands protected by ODF – about 7 percent of the total.

 

ODF has personnel engaged in or closely monitoring many fires on lands not protected by ODF. Their primary mission is to help coordinate and ensure the protection of nearby ODF-protected lands.

 

For photos and more information on wildfires and wildfire readiness, please go to the department's wildfire blog at http://wildfireoregondeptofforestry.blogspot.com/.

 

Eagle Creek Fire – Columbia River Gorge

This fire, located approximately 2 miles south of Cascade Locks, started on September 2, and today remains at 33,382 acres and 7 percent contained. Approximately 969 personnel are engaged on this fire, the cause of which remains under investigation. Yesterday, firefighters continued to close off the western end of the fire by strengthening line with burn-outs. Much of the southwest side, difficult to reach because of steep, rugged conditions, burned back on itself throughout the day. There was very little smoke detected by aerial resources in the critical area north of the Bull Run Watershed, and the fire continued backing slowly down around the basins on the southeast fire perimeter. Scouting is underway on the southeast and eastern flanks to tie a series of roads and trails together that will create a barrier to the fire’s eastern progression without putting firefighters in jeopardy through direct attack in that area’s hazardous conditions. The most active part of the fire yesterday was near Herman Creek (on the northeast side), however, the fire has not yet crossed that creek. Two community meetings will be held on Monday, September 11: 6 p.m., Edgefield Amphitheater, 2126 Halsey Street, Troutdale, and 7:00 p.m., Marine Park Pavilion, Cascade Locks.

 

Chetco Bar Fire - Curry and Josephine counties

This lightning-caused fire, located about 5 miles east of Brookings, started on July 12. Today, the fire is 182,284 acres (an increase of 4,591 acres) and 5 percent contained. About 20,000 of those acres are lands protected by ODF through the Coos Forest Protective Association. More than 1,400 personnel are engaged on this fire, which is operating under Unified Command, and now also organized with Interagency Incident Management Teams assigned to both the east and west sides. Today, fire crews are constructing direct line and mop-up operations, and air operations are supporting ground and air personnel, as well as conducting reconnaissance and infrared mapping. There will be a community meeting regarding the east side of this fire at 6 p.m. tonight, Sunday, September 10, at the Illinois Valley High School in Cave Junction.

 

High Cascades Complex - in and around Crater Lake National Park

This complex of fires started on July 25 (lightning), and is reported today at 70,655 acres (for an overall increase from yesterday of 3,689 acres), with containment remaining at 21 percent. Organizationally, yesterday this complex (which includes the Spruce Lake, Blanket Creek, Broken Lookout, Pup, and North Pelican fires) was divided into east and west zones, with an Interagency Incident Management Team assigned to each zone. Spruce Lake, Blanket Creek, North Pelican fires. More than 750 people are engaged on these fires. Road, trail and area closures remain in effect. *Note: Management of the North Pelican Fire was transferred yesterday to be under the command of this complex and that fire’s acreage is now included in the complex total acres.*

 

Horse Creek Complex - Willamette National Forest

This complex of fires, located southeast of McKenzie Bridge, started on August 21 (lightning). The combined area of the complex is 29,223 acres (for an overall increase from yesterday of 66 acres) and it remains uncontained. More than 230 personnel are engaged on the fires in this complex, which includes the Avenue, Roney, Separation, Nash, and Olallie Lookout fires, mainly located within the Three Sisters Wilderness Area. Road, trail, and area closures remain in place.

 

Horse Prairie Fire - Douglas Forest Protective Association

This fire is located about 15 miles northwest of Canyonville. There was no growth on the fire yesterday, which remains at 16,436 acres and containment is now at 40 percent. The fire’s cause remains under investigation. ODF's Incident Management Team 1 assumed command yesterday from ODF IMT 3, and today firefighters are continuing mop-up and rehabilitation activities. There are approximately 776 personnel engaged on this fire. A community meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, September 12 in the Riddle Community Hall, 123 Parkside Street, Riddle.

 

Jones Fire - Willamette National Forest

This fire, located east of Springfield and about 10 miles northeast of Lowell, started (lightning) on August 10. No changes have been reported to this fire's acreage of 8,536 acres or containment of 48 percent.

 

Miller Complex - Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

This complex of fires, located about 17 miles east of Cave Junction, started on August 14 (lightning). The combined area of the complex is about 34,088 acres (for an overall increase from yesterday of 152 acres) and it remains 33 percent contained. The fires are burning in steep, timbered terrain in southwest Jackson County/northern California, and includes the Creedence, Bigelow, Burnt Peak, and Abney fires. ODF continues to actively engage on this complex to keep these fires from spreading to lands protected by ODF. About 580 personnel are engaged with these fires. Evacuations and area, road, and trail closures are in place.

 

Milli Fire - Deschutes National Forest

This lightning-caused fire, located about 9 miles west of Sisters, started on August 11. The fire remains at about 24,025 acres today and 60 percent contained. About 59 personnel are still engaged on this fire. There may be some increase in acreage over the upcoming week as the fire continues to burn into locations where it will naturally extinguish; indirect attack/helicopter bucket drops will be used as needed if it burns into other areas. Area closures, while recently reduced, are still in effect.

 

Rebel - Willamette National Forest

This group of fires, started on August 4, are burning primarily in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area, about 13 miles south of McKenzie Bridge. The combined size of the three fires in this group – Rebel, Pete and Box Canyon – is 7,784 acres (an increase over yesterday of 7 acres) and there are approximately 55 personnel engaged. The cause of these fires remains under investigation. Road, trail, and area closures, and evacuations are still in effect.

 

Umpqua North Complex - Umpqua National Forest 

This complex of fires, located along Highway 58 about 50 miles east of Roseburg, started (lightning) on August 11. This complex is now 39,529 acres (an increase from yesterday of 81 acres) and containment remains at 36 percent. The complex is currently comprised of nine active fires including the Fall Creek, Happy Dog, Rattlesnake, Devil, Brokentooth, and Ragged Ridge fires. More than 880 personnel are engaged on these fires.

 

Whitewater Fire - Willamette National Forest

This group of fires, started on July 23 (lightning), are burning primarily in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area about 15 miles east of Detroit. The combined size of these fires (Whitewater, Little Devil, Scorpion, and Potato Hill) is now approximately 1,339 acres (an overall increase from yesterday of about 200 acres), with containment remaining at 33 percent and most of the fire perimeters remaining essentially unchanged today. Approximately 299 personnel are engaged on these fires. Road, trail, and area closures remain in effect. On the Whitewater Fire, sprinkler systems have been installed to suppress a small slop-over outside of the wilderness area, in Cheat Creek, to protect private timber lands.

 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Firefighters continue working to fully contain the Horse Prairie Fire

Over a thousand firefighters and support personnel continue working to fully contain the Horse Prairie Fire in Douglas County. Fire activity has decreased, which will result in a reduction in the number of personnel assigned to the fire as mop-up and rehab operations become more of the focus.

Above: Decreased fire activity on the Horse Prairie Fire
 is letting firefighters focus on finishing burnout operations
even as mop up and rehab efforts get underway.
ODF's Incident Management Team 3 is finishing their two-week assignment and will transfer command of the fire to ODF's IMT 1 on Saturday. Their mission will be to help bring the fire to full containment. The fire stands at 16,436 acres and is now 35 percent contained.

The rain that fell across the valley yesterday and last night dropped only about 15-hundredths of an inch on the fire. The light rain is not expected to hinder the burnout operations of unburned areas within the established fireline and smoke may be visible from Cow Creek Road. It is essential to finish burning out these “islands” of unburned fuels to prevent future flare ups and new fires crossing established containment lines.

Other work on the fire today includes the establishment of sediment controlling “water bars” on the fire trails.  These water bars are berms of earth constructed at an angle and spacing to prevent rain falling on the fire trial from creating a gully and erosion.  Additional work today will be falling fire-weakened trees along the railroad tracks to prevent their unexpected fall onto the tracks.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Further growth not expected on the Horse Prairie Fire

Above: Firefighters on the Horse Prairie Fire in Douglas County
continue strengthening firelines today.
RIDDLE, Ore. – Fire managers on the Horse Prairie Fire in Douglas County are reporting that further growth on the fire is not anticipated. The fire's size is 16,436 acres and containment is 30 percent. Today firefighters  will continue strengthening control lines and burning areas that were included in the constructed fire line but not consumed by the fire.  Burning these areas, now, in a controlled manner, with firefighters present, will help to prevent an unexpected fire flare-up after the main body of firefighters leaves.  Smoke from these burnouts will be visible from Cow Creek Road but not be a threat to the control line.

Last night the evacuation level along Cow Creek Road was reduced from Level 3 to Level 2.  Road blocks will remain staffed and residents may return without an escort from the Douglas County Sheriff’s.  Access to the public is restricted due to heavy fire truck traffic.

A trace of rain fell on the fire Wednesday night.  However, fire danger remains high.  Warmer temperatures and lower humidity have been forecast to return Monday.

The fire is staffed with 1,087 personnel.  The fire's Incident Command Post is located just east of Riddle.

Smoke remains in the area. To learn more about smoke in the area, log on to http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/.


Right: People living near the Horse Prairie Fire in southern Oregon showed their appreciation for firefighters with signs of all kinds.

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.