Sunny and dry conditions again prevail across Oregon this week. Mild temperatures will give way to warmer conditions, melting snow and drying fuels faster. This will raise fire risk across the state. There have already been twice as many wildfires on ODF-protected land compared to the same time last year, with more than twice as many acres burned.
May is Wildfire Awareness Month, a time when homeowners are urged to take steps to reduce the risk of wildfire around their house and other structures. Among these are clearing debris from roofs and gutters, cutting back brush from around structures, and removing lower branches from trees.
Wednesday, December 27, 2017
According to Cal Fire, the Thomas Fire is now 88% contained and is not expected to spread further. The number of personnel assigned to the fire has reportedly fallen below 900.
Thursday, December 21, 2017
|Above: Firefighters from ODF's Eastern Oregon Area |
pause for a group photo after fighting
the Thomas Fire in Southern California.
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
|Above: Smoke from the Thomas Fire rises |
above ODF fire engines and crews.
Monday, December 18, 2017
|Above: Oregon firefighters deployed by ODF |
to the Thomas Fire put out a spot fire
threatening an avocado orchard.
|Above: Some 25 fire engines are deployed |
to the Thomas Fire from several ODF districts
and the Coos and Douglas Forest Protective Associations.
Prolonged Santa Ana winds have fanned the Thomas Fire since it began Dec.4, contributing to its rapid growth and extreme fire behavior. These winds originate as a high-pressure system over the Great Basin and upper Mojave Desert. The cool, dry air sweeps across the deserts of eastern California before funneling through mountain passes and canyons to the Pacific Ocean. Three things happen when Santa Ana winds are blowing: it gets warmer, wind speed increases and humidity plummets, all of which increase fire risk.
Thursday, December 14, 2017
|Above: Flames from Southern California's|
Thomas Fire shoot up over shrubs left dry
by months without rain.
Photo from Inciweb by Kari Greer.
Cal Fire reported today that there has been one firefighter fatality on the Thomas Fire involving one of that agency's California staffers. ODF extends its condolences to that firefighter's family and to all our colleagues at Cal Fire. As more details are released by Cal Fire we will share that information.
ODF's agency representative at the Thomas Fire reports that all 62 firefighting personnel deployed there from ODF districts and the Coos and Douglas Forest Protective Associations are safe. The Oregon Office of the State Fire Marshal is reporting that the 300 Oregon firefighters deployed through that office and other fire entities are also safe.
Our firefighters are among more than 8,000 personnel engaged on the Thomas Fire, which is burning in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties northwest of Los Angeles. It has grown to more than 242,000 acres, making it the fourth largest wildfire in modern California history. As in any wildfire, firefighter safety is a top priority for our task force leaders and crews.
A red-flag warning is in effect until 10 a.m. Friday. No rain is forecast. In Santa Barbara County, the fire continues to threaten Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Summerland, Montecito and surroundings areas. Some 18,000 structures are reported at risk and big sections of the Los Padres National Forest have burned. High fuel loading, critically low fuel moistures, above-average temperatures and single-digit relative humidities are reported to be spurring growth on the fire's west, east and north sides. Despite that, firefighters have made progress on the fire. As of this morning the fire was reported as 30% contained.
While wildfires occur every year in California, 14 of the 20 largest fires by acres burned have all occurred since 2001, according to Cal Fire statistics. Eight of those mega-fires happened just in the past decade.
For the latest information about the Thomas Fire, visit Cal Fire's incident information page at http://www.fire.ca.gov/current_incidents.
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Detroit and Idanha join about 1,400 other communities nationwide who have taken the five necessary steps to earn Firewise USA status since the program started in 2002. About 124 Oregon communities have earned the designation. Most are in southern and central Oregon, with about half in Jackson and Deschutes counties.
The steps all communities seeking Firewise status in Oregon must take are:
For their Firewise Day event on May 6, both Detroit and Idanha held a free disposal day for vegetation residents removed from around their buildings. Keeping trees and shrubs at least 30 feet away from structures creates a defensible space and makes it harder for wildfire to catch a building on fire.
The risk-reduction moves were timely as in July the Whitewater Fire started nearby in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness. That fire would eventually grow to over 14,400 acres, coming close enough to threaten both communities.
Representatives from the Oregon Department of Forestry, U.S. Forest Service and the Idanha-Detroit Rural Fire Protection District as well as local dignitaries and volunteers will be on hand for the public unveiling of the Firewise USA signs.
Monday, December 11, 2017
The Oregon firefighters traveled from various points around the state to California on Friday and Saturday. All arrived over the weekend at the California Southern Region Prado Mobilization Center in Chino, about 35 miles east of Los Angeles.
The ODF firefighters are assigned to the Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara County. As of this morning, Cal Fire was reporting that close to 6,400 firefighters and more than 850 fire engines were engaged in fighting the fire, which is threatening a number of communities. The blaze, fueled by strong winds, has already burned almost 40,000 more acres than this year's largest wildfire in Oregon (the 191,125-acre Chetco Bar Fire).
The five ODF task forces, each made up of five engines, were requested by California fire officials through an interstate resource-sharing system known as ROSS (Resource Ordering and Status System). They are in addition to over 300 other Oregon fire service personnel sent to fight Southern California fires by the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office and fellow entities.
“California and Oregon have a longstanding relationship with mutual reciprocation when suppression resources are needed,” said Oregon State Forester Peter Daugherty. “California was there for us during our challenging fire season this year and Oregon is fortunate to have the opportunity to return the favor.”
Severe fire weather is expected to continue, promoting significant fire growth in Santa Barbara County, where a number of communities are under mandatory evacuation orders. Cal Fire has reported that some 18,000 structures are threatened by the fire, with more than having been destroyed. For the latest information about the Thomas Fire, visit Cal Fire incident information page.
This is the second deployment of ODF firefighters and engines to California this year. The deployment in October of five engines and personnel from the Southwest and Klamath-Lake districts was to help with devastating wildfires in Northern California.
During the summer, California firefighting resources were among several out-of-state resources that answered requests to assist with the many fires that were burning across Oregon.
Monday, October 30, 2017
Friday, October 27, 2017
Prescribed burns help decrease the threat of high-intensity, high-severity wildfires; reduce the risk of insect and disease outbreak; recycle nutrients that increase soil productivity; and improve wildlife habitat.
The actual days of ignition for these burn projects will depend on several factors, including appropriate humidity levels, wind speed and direction, temperature, and fuel moisture. Burns only occur on days when the Oregon Smoke Management Office indicates suitable weather conditions exist for smoke dispersal.
Area residents and visitors may notice smoke on public lands in various areas during the next few months as part of the continued commitment to protect communities and natural resources from extreme wildfires.
FREMONT-WINEMA NATIONAL FOREST
Bly Ranger District
Approximately 500 acres of prescribed burning is planned for the West Spodue Project area, located 12 miles north of Beatty and just west of Spodue Mountain. An additional 300 acres are scheduled to be treated within the Long Project area, 15 miles east of the Bly, in the Coleman Rim area. Pile burning has been ongoing and will continue in various locations throughout the District. For more information, please contact Bly Ranger District Fire Management Officer Eric Knerr at 541-353-2741 or Bly Ranger District Assistant Fire Management Officer Leland Hunter at 541-353-2745.
Chemult Ranger District
Approximately 500 acres of prescribed burning is planned for the Chemult Town site Project area, located adjacent to the town of Chemult on Highway 97 and 400 acres in the Jack Unit area, located 13 miles east of Chemult, near Tea Table Mountain. 700 acres are scheduled to be treated within the Cub Unit area, 25 miles southwest of Chemult, near Lookout Butte south of Highway 138. Additional pile burning will continue throughout the winter, 40 miles east of Chemult. For more information, please contact Chemult Ranger District Assistant Fire Management Officer Ken Gregor at 541-365-7057 or Engine Captain Dave Varon at 559-202-7345.
Chiloquin Ranger District
Roughly 300 acres of prescribed burning is planned in the Ninemile Project area located about five miles east of Chiloquin, south of the Sprague River Road near Corbell Butte. An additional 75 acres will be treated on the Yoss House Project, located 15 miles northeast of Chiloquin in the Yoss Ridge area. Pile burning has been ongoing and will continue in various locations throughout the District. For additional information, please contact the Chiloquin Ranger District Assistant Fire Management Officer, Evan Wright at 541-783-4056 or District Fire Management Officer Mitch Wilson 514-783-4066.
Klamath Ranger District
Approximately 258 acres of prescribed burning is planned for the Raccoon Project Unit, located 30 miles northwest of Klamath Falls adjacent to Highway 140 in the Odessa area, near Rocky Point. Another method of reducing fuel is to burn piles of woody debris which is scheduled within the Klamath Ranger District. For more information, please contact Klamath Ranger District Assistant Fire Management Officer Philp Bordelon at 541-885-3413. Lakeview Ranger District
Located six miles east of Lakeview, 750 acres of prescribed fire is planned in the Burnt Willow Project area, near Burnt Creek and 400 acres in the West Drews Project area, west of Drews Reservoir. Pile burning has been ongoing and will continue in various locations throughout the District. For additional information, please contact Lakeview Ranger District Assistant Fire Management Officer Coley Neider at 541-219-2126.
Winter Rim Zone
Nearly 800 acres of prescribed burning is planned in the Coyote Creek area, which is 25 miles southwest of Silver Lake and 500 acres of prescribed fire is planned for the Paisley Ranger District, located west of Forest Service Road 33 near Coffee Pot Flat, 14 miles southwest of Paisley. Pile burning has been ongoing and will continue in various locations throughout the District. For more information, please contact Silver Lake Ranger District Assistant Fire Management Officer Joel Johnson 541-219-0310 or Paisley Ranger District Assistant Fire Management Officer Sam Tacchini 541-219-2028.
LAKEVIEW DISTRICT BLM
Lakeview Resource Area
Prescribed burning of cut juniper, approximately 3,000 acres is planned within the South Warner Project area, located 16 miles east of Lakeview and five miles southwest of Adel. For additional information, please contact the Bureau of Land Management Fire Operations Supervisor Abel Harrington at 541-219-0103.
Klamath Falls Resource Area
A number of areas will be burning piles: Approximately 50 acres in the Gerber area is planned 12 miles southeast of Bonanza; 600 acres located four miles north of Malin; Bly Mountain, located eight miles north of Bonanza; and 40 piles located four miles northwest of Keno. For more information, contact Bureau of Land Management Fire Operations Supervisor Justin Pyle at 541-885-4177.
U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE
Sheldon-Hart National Wildlife Refuge Complex (NWRC)
Approximately 1,500 acres of cut juniper will be treated in the Poker Jim area of NWRC Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge. Most of the planned burning on Hart Mountain is approximately eight to 10 miles east of Plush. For more information, please contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Office at 541-947- 3315 or Bureau of Land Management Fire Operations Supervisor Abel Harrington at 541-219-0103.
Prescribed burning notices will be placed at Fremont-Winema National Forest Offices and Lakeview Interagency Office prior to ignition and posted online. Fremont-Winema National Forest, BLM Lakeview District, and NWRC employees are committed to a safe and successful prescribed burning season for both the public and employees.
The South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership is an interagency fire management program that provides comprehensive wildland fire service to south central Oregon and northwest Nevada. The partnership strives to achieve a more efficient, effective and integrated interagency fire management program for all participating agencies on the lands administered and protected by each agency.
Participating agencies include: Fremont-Winema National Forest, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lakeview District, Sheldon-Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Crater Lake National Park and Klamath-Lake District Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF).
Prescribed burn updates and maps are available online at:
South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership blog: https://scofmp.blogspot.com/
Lakeview Interagency Fire Center site: www.scofmp.org/rx_fire.shtml
Social Media: Twitter @scofmpfireinfo or Facebook http://facebook.com/scofmpfireinfo
For more information, contact Fire Information Officer Sarah Saarloos with the South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership at 541-219-0515 or email@example.com.
Friday, October 20, 2017
|Above: Firefighters head for home after suppressing the|
Naylox Fire in central Oregon. Fire season has now ended
on all lands protected by ODF statewide.
ODF and its fire protective association partners suppressed over a thousand fires this year that burned an estimated 42,000 acres. By comparison, the severe fire seasons from 2013-2015 accounted for an annual average of 81,467 acres burned.
"This was a significant year for wildfire," said ODF Fire Protection Deputy Chief Ron Graham. "Thanks to aggressive and safe firefighting, we were able to keep the great majority of fires small in scale. I'm also pleased that we had no firefighter fatalities and injuries were below the expected average.
"Our partners within Oregon's complete and coordinated fire protection system played key roles this year, from forest landowners to rural fire districts, the Oregon National Guard, Oregon State Fire Marshal and other state and federal partners, including those from out of state," Graham added. "We are grateful for all the collaboration and support we received in what turned out to be a very busy fire season."
The number of wildfire starts this year was close to average, but the number of acres burned was significantly higher. Just one fire accounted for nearly half the total acres burned on lands protected by ODF and its forest protective association partners. Lightning started the Chetco Bar Fire in a wilderness area in Curry County. Over the summer it became Oregon's largest fire of the year, scorching 191,125 acres, including 20,000 acres of private and public land protected by the Coos Forest Protective Association.
Lightning was unusually rare last year but returned with a vengeance in August, keeping firefighters in southern and eastern Oregon busy well into September. ODF statistics show that the majority of wildfires continue to be caused by humans. Human-caused fires are up 9 percent over last year, underscoring the importance of prevention, Graham said.
"Fire prevention remains our top priority," he said. "Fires caused by humans, especially debris burning and abandoned campfires that have not been extinguished properly, continue to raise concern. We need the public's help to reduce these careless and costly fires."
Graham reminds Oregonians that fire season does not mean the end of fire prevention. "I urge everyone to continue to practice vigilance with any potential source of fire all year long," he said. "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.
Burn piles, especially tightly compacted piles, can hold heat and smolder for many weeks, rekindling when the temperature goes up and the wind blows. That's why they should be revisited periodically over several weeks to make sure the fire has not rekindled. 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. Below is a list of ODF fire protection districts and their fire season start and end dates:
- South Cascade District, June 26 to Oct. 11
- Western Lane District, June 26 to Oct. 11
- North Cascade District, July 5 to Oct. 11
- West Oregon District, July 3 to Oct. 11
- Northwest Oregon District, July 10 to Oct.11
- Coos Forest Protective Association, June 26 to Oct. 13
- Walker Range Fire Patrol Association, June 2 to Oct. 13
- Douglas Forest Protective Association, June 19 to Oct. 12
- Northeast Oregon District, June 26 to Oct. 12
- Central Oregon District, June 7 to Oct. 16
- Klamath-Lake District, June 5 to Oct. 19
- Southwest Oregon District, June 4 to Oct. 20
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
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.
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
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
|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.
Thursday, October 5, 2017
|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.
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
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,
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
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
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Comments and questions
Current wildfire info
What we do
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.