Current situation

Check with your local district or forest protection association for restrictions or use ODF's fire restrictions and closures web page for the latest details at https://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Explosive growth on Chetco Bar Fire leads to conflagration declaration

Several existing fires in Oregon grew yesterday, with the greatest growth on the Chetco Bar Fire in Curry County in southwest Oregon. Overnight strong north winds pushed the fire south, increasing it by thousands of acres and threatening land protected by the Coos Forest Protective Association. Infrared mapping shows the total fire size as of this morning had reached about 31,000 acres according to a news release from the fire's Incident Management Team. Gov. Kate Brown has invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act to allow for the mobilization of additional resources.

The fire is exhibiting extreme behavior with long-range spotting, prompting Level 3 evacuations and closure of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. The Red Cross has a shelter for evacuees set up in Gold Beach at Riley Elementary School. Significant smoke is also affecting air quality this weekend in Brookings. The fire was started by lightning July 12 on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

Fire managers from the Coos Forest Protective Association are engaged in the fire. They are focused on lands they protect which are threatened by the Chetco Bar Fire. ODF will send additional resources to CFPA as they are needed to help that mission.

Temporary Flight Restriction issued for Chetco Bar
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over the Chetco Bar Fire. Any private aircraft or drone that violates the TFR could face serious criminal charges. Visit the FAA's website www.KnowBeforeYouFly.org. Because of the potential to interfere with aircraft fighting a fire, it's never a good idea to send a private drone to any wildfire. Remember, "If you fly, we can't!"

ODF is fully engaged on wildfires
ODF is fully engaged on wildfires across the state, conducting those operations safely, efficiently and effectively. As was done in the busy wildfire years of 2013-15, to sustain our operations ODF has again been mobilizing resources from the national system and our Canadian partners.

ODF is integrated with Oregon's Office of Emergency Management to manage demands resulting from the solar eclipse. The influx of visitors coincides with the state's peak fire season.

Updates on other existing Oregon wildfires

Milli Fire - Deschutes National Forest
Protecting structures remains a high priority for this fire just outside Sisters. Evacuations, closures of roads and recreation areas are in place. Visible smoke from the fire may impact eclipse visibility in the vicinity. Information posted by the incident still shows it at 7,814 acres.

More than 480 personnel are reported engaged in fighting the fire. ODF, Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests, Oregon State Fire Marshall's Office, and Oregon Department of Transportation are cooperating with the Southwest Area Incident Management Team to manage the fire.

Belknap Fire - Ochoco National Forest
The lightning-caused wildfire 20 miles northeast of Prineville is reported at 75 percent contained. It has been burning in the Mill Creek Wilderness.

Falcon Complex -
This group of fires burning in timber roughly 17 miles north of Prospect in southern Oregon has grown by 300 acres to a total size of 2,200 acres. It is reported as 17 percent contained.

High Cascades Complex - in and around Crater Lake National Park
This complex of fires has grown a reported 572 acres over the past 24 hours to 11,226 acres. The fire is exhibiting moderate fire behavior. Over a hundred Oregon National Guard members are helping at the fire since being mobilized earlier this week. Road, trail and area closures are in place.

Jones Fire - Willamette National Forest
This fire east of Springfield has grown by a thousand acres and is reported this morning at 3,728 acres. Structures and commercial timber are threatened and there have been area closures and campground evacuations. Burnout operations are a part of the fire plan.

Miller Complex - Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest
The total acreage burned was reported at 5,302 acres, an increase of 634 acres. The Complex is burning in timber southwest Jackson County near the California border.

Nena Springs - Warm Springs reservation
Growth overnight on this fire was more limited than yesterday, increasing by 2,132 acres to 68,135 total acres burned.

Staley Fire - Willamette National Forest
No growth in the fire had been reported by early this morning. It is still listed at 761 acres. This fire 23 miles south of Oakridge is just a few miles from ODF-protected land. ODF is engaging with the Incident Management Team managing the fire.

Umpqua North Complex - Umpqua National Forest
This group of fires is now reported at 6,878 acres. ODF and the Douglas Forest Protective Association are part of a Unified Command formed in response to the fire. Campground and area closures are in effect and evacuations are in place.

Whitewater Fire - Willamette National Forest / ODF North Cascade District
This fire is now reported at 7,599 acres, an increase of 568 acres. Burnout operations have been conducted to remove vegetation between this fire and control lines, helping keep the fire from spreading into private forestland. Two Oregon Army National Guard Ch-47 helicopters continue making water drops on the fire.

Fire conditions forecast
Skies should be sunny across the state for tomorrow's eclipse except at the coast. Dry, sunny weather keeps fuels dry, making them ignite easily.

Lightning is expected to return to south-central Oregon Tuesday, spreading more widely to central and eastern Oregon on Wednesday. New wildfires are likely in the wake of the thunderstorms. Fire restrictions and closures remain in effect. To find those for ODF-protected lands, go to http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx

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The purpose of this blog is to provide breaking news about wildfire activity on the forestlands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry. We invite you to post questions or comments about current wildfires. Please keep your posts civil and free of profanity.

Current wildfire info

National weather forecasters predictions that Oregon would see above average temperatures and below average rainfall in the summer of 2018 proved true. Almost all of Oregon was abnormally dry this summer, with a majority of the state in moderate to severe drought. Many areas posted record high temperatures or record strings of hot days. These conditions set the stage for potentially large, fast-moving wildfires.


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.

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Oregon Dept. of Forestry's public information officers in Salem, Ore., maintain this blog. During the wildfire season, we spend much of our time reporting on fires and firefighting to news media and the public.