Current situation

Winter and spring see lots of controlled burns in Oregon to eliminate piles of woody debris left over after logging or thinning. Embers buried in the ashes of these pile burns can sometimes reignite even days after a fire appears to be out, especially if winds blow away ashy debris. The same winds can then fan smoldering embers back to life. That's why it's a good idea to keep checking old pile burns to ensure no hot spots have rekindled.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Highway signs warn of extreme wildfire danger

SALEM, Ore. – Starting today messaging boards on major Oregon highways will warn motorists of the extreme fire danger in much of the state. The signs are a collaborative effort between the Oregon Department of Forestry and the Oregon Department of Transportation.  The message "Extreme Fire Danger: Use Caution" can be seen on I-5, I-84 and State Highway 97 through central Oregon and Highway 20 from Albany to Ontario. The messages will be shown during times of peak wildfire danger.  

                    Left: Motorists along Oregon's main freeways and Highways 97 and 20 are being warned about the extreme fire danger in much of the state by signs like this one near Madras. ODF photo by Jamie Paul.

The majority of wildfires in Oregon are caused by humans, according to Fire Prevention Coordinator Tom Fields with the Oregon Department of Forestry in Salem.

“Taking extra care to avoid any activity which might spark a fire is especially important in summer. By August, vegetation is dry and can readily catch fire even from small sparks,” he said.

Drivers should not toss cigarette butts out windows and avoid parking on dry grass, which may ignite from heat from their vehicle. For a full list of restrictions when traveling, recreating or working in forestland, visit the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Fire Restrictions and Closures web page at

“We appreciate the Department of Transportation helping us raise awareness among Oregonians and visitors to our state of the extreme fire danger in our forestlands,” said Fields.


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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:

Current wildfire info

Cool, wet weather in the winter of 2016-17 ended Oregon's long drought and left a thick mountain snowpack. It didn't take long for that to melt and vegetation to dry out due to a series of heatwaves and a prolonged stretch of dry weather over the summer. As forest fuels dried, fires started and spread, many from lands adjacent to those protected by ODF, such as the Chetco Bar Fire in Curry County. That one fire accounted for 46% of the 47,537 acres of land protected by ODF which burned in 2017. Of fires originating on ODF-protected land, 95% were put out at less than 10 acres.

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.


About Me

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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.