Current situation

Fire season on ODF-protected land has officially ended in all of Oregon as cooler temperatures and moister conditions settle over much of the state. This late in the fall, a key source of ignitions is fire escaping when piles of woody debris are burned. Care is required with that activity at any time of year.
































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.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Eagle Creek and Indian Creek fires merge in the Columbia Gorge

The Eagle Creek and Indian Creek Fires in the Columbia River Gorge have merged and are now being managed as one incident. An infrared fly-over has estimated the combined fires to be 30,929 acres. After experiencing explosive fire behavior on the Eagle Creek Fire last night, firefighters were successful at holding fire growth to moderate levels Tuesday. A spot fire, which spread across the Columbia River early Tuesday near Archer Mountain, is approximately 120 acres today and is being managed by a Washington Department of Natural Resources Type 3 Team.

Structural firefighters led by the Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office saved the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge, built in 1925. A task force of structural engines and one aerial ladder truck worked in conjunction with a strike team of water tenders to keep the lodge wetted down during the fire storm of falling embers. Large trees nearby torched and fire crews used hose lines to protect the lodge from heat. Visit the Eagle Creek and Indian Creek Fires Facebook page to see pictures of the lodge.

Ian Yocum, Incident Commander with the Oregon State Fire Marshal said firefighters were successful in protecting other structures as well. “Firefighters had a good day out there. We lost one small residential structure and four outbuildings. We will continue to patrol and access structural protection needs.”

Defending private property, historical structures in the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area, the various State Parks in the area and the Bull Run Watershed will continue to be top priorities for firefighters.

The I-84 freeway remains closed from Troutdale to Hood River due to rocks, snags and other debris entering the roadway. Oregon Department of Transportation will be working closely with the Unified Command team to determine when it will be safe to open. Detour routes are in place.

Temperatures are expected to be cooler today, but a Red Flag Warning will be in effect in the afternoon for potential lightning. Winds will shift to westerly, which may help improve the unhealthy air quality in the greater Portland metropolitan area. Those west winds, however, could propel fire growth to the east of the current fire perimeter.

For real time and current evacuation information, please contact the sheriffs' offices in Multnomah, Hood River or Skamania County. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Eagle Creek Fire forces evacuations in the Columbia Gorge

The Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area was reported early this morning at 4,800 acres and has come within four miles east of Corbett. The fire started on Sept. 2, just south of Cascade Locks. Over the weekend it jumped the Columbia River near Archer Mountain. All hikers and campers in the area were accounted for and safely removed or led out by Sunday. Trail, railroad and area closures are now in effect. 
 
As of this morning, about 300 personnel were assigned to the fire. Oregon State Fire Marshal task forces are in the fire area doing structure protection. No primary residences have been lost. Additional resources have been ordered. Level 1, 2, and 3 evacuations are in place for Cascade Locks and nearby areas in both Hood River and Multnomah counties. Evacuation levels and zones can rapidly change. The Hood River County Sheriff (http://www.hoodriversheriff.com/news/breaking-news/) and Multnomah County Sheriff (https://flashalert.net/id/MCSO/107579?alert=1) are the most reliable sources for the latest evacuation information. Shelters have been set up at Mt. Hood Community College, 3691 NE 17th Drive in Gresham and at the Skamania County Fairgrounds, immediately across the Columbia River in Stevenson, Wash.
 
A section of Interstate Highway 84 was reported closed from Troutdale (Exit 17) to two miles west of Hood River (Milepost 62). Bridge of the Gods is also closed. SR-14 in Washington is closed to commercial traffic in both directions but open to passenger vehicles. SR-14 is extremely congested in both directions, please travel only if necessary. Get the latest information on road closures at www.tripcheck.com. 
 
On Sunday, Governor Kate Brown declared the fire a conflagration, enabling additional structural resources to be assigned to this fire. She visited the fire's joint information center in Troutdale this afternoon.
 
An interagency incident management team (Type 2) assumed command of the fire yesterday. Under Unified Command ODF is fully integrated with that team and providing mutual aid. Also in the Unified Command are the U.S. Forest Service, the Oregon State Fire Marshal and the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The team is also assuming command of the nearby 850-acre Indian Creek Fire. 
 
The fire is reported to be human-caused and is under investigation by the Oregon State Police and other authorities.

Communities suffer from unhealthy air quality due to Chetco Bar Fire's smoke

(BROOKINGS, Ore.) - Heavy smoke continues to settle in communities surrounding the Chetco Bar Fire in all directions, leading to air quality in the very unhealthy range in places. Inland communities such as Agness, Cave Junction and Grants Pass are expected to remain in the very unhealthy range through today and into Tuesday. Coastal communities are expected to get a slight reprieve this afternoon as light southwest winds and onshore flow help to drift smoke inland. Smoke will settle back into these areas overnight. In general, the coast (including Gold Beach and Brookings) should average very unhealthy conditions.

Fire managers will provide an operational update about the fire to the public on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017 at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held at:

          Brookings-Harbor High School
          625 Pioneer Road, Brookings, Oregon

Monday, September 4, 2017

ODF Daily Fire Update - Monday, September 4, 2017


 

As the holiday week-end winds down, fire danger remains high to extreme

 

Red Flag Warnings continue across most of Oregon today, as well as continued extreme heat warnings and air quality alerts. Conditions on the ground remain ideal for new fire starts and extreme fire behavior on existing fires. Human-caused fires have continued to be an issue on Oregon’s forestlands. Please do all you can to help prevent human-caused wildfires. Know and follow the fire restrictions and closures for where you are located or will be traveling. To find that information on ODF-protected lands, go to http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx.

 

Preventing human-caused wildfires, keeping Oregon green, doing our part – share on and help spread the word: https://www.facebook.com/odfprevention/videos/699961523461728/.

 

As travelers return home today, a reminder that there are roads in Oregon that are impacted by wildfires and poor visibility due to smoky conditions. Take the extra time, watch for firefighters and equipment, and get the latest road conditions on www.tripcheck.com.

 

New wildfires on ODF-protected forestlands

There were no new wildfires 10 acres or larger reported on ODF-protected forestlands over the past 24 hours.

 

Updates on existing Oregon wildfires

Growth slowed on some large existing fires in Oregon and increased on others. There are now four wildfires or wildfire complexes in the state over 20,000 acres in size. ODF has personnel engaged in or closely monitoring many of those 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.

 

Chetco Bar Fire - in Curry County

Oregon's largest wildfire is approximately 150,000 acres, of which at least 18,000 are land protected by ODF through the Coos Forest Protective Association, with containment remaining at 10 percent. There was no infrared flight again last night, therefore the acreage amount is an estimate today. There are more than 1,600 personnel assigned to this fire. Evacuations, and area, road, and trail closures in effect.

 

Horse Prairie Fire – Douglas Forest Protective Association

The Horse Prairie Fire is now estimated at 12,813 acres and 20 percent contained. Approximately 969 personnel are engaged on the fire which is located about 12 miles west of Riddle. There are Level 3 evacuations in effect for residences on portions of Lower Cow Creek and Doe roads, with local fire departments’ engines posted at all nine affected homes. Road and area closures also remain in effect.

 

Jade Creek Fire - Klamath-Lake District / Fremont-Winema National Forest

This lightning-caused fire is reported today at 782 acres and 15 percent contained (the updated, lower acreage estimate is due to more accurate mapping). The entire fire is now lined and there has been no growth outside of that fire perimeter. It is burning about 16 miles east of Bly on private land and land managed by the U.S. Forest Service in an area of sagebrush, grass, juniper, timber and logging slash. Approximately 200 personnel remain engaged on this fire. Road, trail, and area closures are in effect. Travelers on Highway 140 between Bly and Lakeview should be aware of decreased visibility due to smoke, intermittent road closures, and emergency response vehicles in the area.

 

Eagle Creek Fire – Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

The Eagle Creek Fire, which started on Saturday, September 2, about 2 miles south of Cascade Locks, is reported today at 3,200 acres. The fire has been determined to be human-caused and under investigation by the Oregon State Police. There are Level 1, 2, and 3 evacuations in place for Cascade Locks and near-by areas in both Hood River and Multnomah Counties. Road, trail, and area closures are also in effect. The Governor declared the fire a Conflagration last night, enabling additional structural resources to be assigned to this fire. As of this morning, no ODF-protected acreage is yet directly involved, however, the fire is still threatening ODF protection. An interagency incident management team (Type 2) has assumed command of the fire this morning and ODF is fully integrated with that team, as well as the State Fire Marshal, under Unified Command, and providing mutual aid resources. The team will also assume command of the near-by Indian Creek Fire. All hikers and campers in the area were accounted for and safely removed or led out yesterday. Note: Interstate Highway 84 may be impacted, closed, or delayed due to this fire; get the latest information on www.tripcheck.com.

 

Potato Hill Fire – Willamette National Forest

The Potato Hill Fire is burning about 20 miles northwest of Sisters, (near Highway 20/Lost Lake). The fire remains at approximately 199 acres today and 35 percent contained, Crews are engaged in mop-up within the fire perimeter as it smolders in heavy fuels. Smoke from this fire could impact Highway 20 visibility so the public is asked to travel slowly through the area, and watch out for firefighters working in the area.

 

Milli Fire - Deschutes National Forest

This lightning-caused fire remains at 22,527 acres, and containment rose to 60 percent. A total of approximately 1,334 acres of ODF-protected lands have burned within this fire’s perimeter, however firefighters had worked hard to keep the overall fire intensity low as the fire burned on to those private lands so as to minimize as much damage to those resources as possible. Level 1 evacuation notices remain in effect, as well as road, area, and trail closures. More than 300 personnel are engaged on the Milli and Nash fires. A community meeting regarding the Milli Fire will be held at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, September 5, at Sisters High School.

 

Nash Fire – Deschutes and Willamette National Forests

The incident management team on the Milli Fire is now also managing this fire (which had previously been included in the Horse Creek Complex). The fire is burning about 6 miles north of Elk Lake in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area along the crest of the Cascades. The fire is reported this morning at approximately 3,500 acres (an increase of 1,248 acres) and 0 percent contained. Evacuations, and area, road, and trail closures are in place. More than 300 personnel are engaged on the Milli and Nash fires.

 

Falcon Complex - Umpqua National Forest

There was no new growth reported on this fire, which remains at 2,935 acres size and containment at 55 percent. The fires are burning in timber roughly 17 miles north of Prospect in southern Oregon. The incident management team has successfully kept these lightning-caused fires from spreading to ODF-protected lands.

 

High Cascades Complex - in and around Crater Lake National Park

This large wildfire complex of 20 fires expanded yesterday, and is currently estimated at 37,800 acres and 26 percent contained. More than 650 people are engaged on these fires. Road, trail and area closures remain in effect.

 

Jones Fire - Willamette National Forest

This fire grew by 352 acres yesterday, and is now reported at 8,536 acres and remains 51 percent contained. An ODF branch is integrated with the interagency incident management team on this fire to protect private lands. More than 600 personnel are engaged on this fire which is located east of Springfield and about 10 miles northeast of the town of Lowell.

 

Miller Complex - Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

This complex remained at 17,965 acres, with containment now at 35 percent. Evacuations and area, road, and trail closures are in place. The Complex is burning in southwest Jackson County in difficult, timbered terrain about 17 miles east of Cave Junction. ODF continues to actively engage here to keep these fires from spreading to lands protected by ODF. More than 600 personnel are engaged with this complex of fires.

 

North Pelican Fire - Fremont-Winema National Forest

This lightning-caused fire is reported today at 2,000 acres, an increase of 100 acres, and remains 18 percent contained. The fire is burning about 25 miles north of Klamath Falls and approximately 175 personnel are assigned.

 

Rebel Fire - Willamette National Forest

These three fires (Rebel – 7,157 acres, Pete – 51 acres, and Box Canyon fires – 27 acres) remain at a total of 7,237 acres and 19 percent contained. These fires are burning in the Three Sisters Wilderness 13 miles south of McKenzie Bridge. Road; trail, and area closures, and evacuations are in effect.

 

Staley Fire - Willamette National Forest

This fire remains at 2,234 acres and 76 percent contained. A forest closure for the fire area, including roads and trails, remain in effect on this lightning-caused fire, which is 23 miles south of Oakridge. More resources were released from this fire yesterday to go on to other fire assignments, and it was turned over to the IMT that is currently managing the Jones Fire.

 

Umpqua North Complex - Umpqua National Forest 

This large wildfire complex grew approximately 1,000 acres for a total of 28,344 acres, with containment increasing to 23 percent. More than 1,000 personnel are engaged on this complex of 15 lightning-caused fires that are located about 50 miles east of Roseburg along Highway 138.

 

Whitewater Fire - Willamette National Forest

These lightning-caused fires are burning in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area about 15 miles east of Detroit. Four fires and their current respective estimated acreage amounts are included with this report: the Whitewater (10,554 acres), Little Devil (942 acres), Scorpion (284 acres), and French (2 acres) fires. The last total acreage on these four fires is reported as growing by 338 acres, bringing the total acres burned to 11,772, and they remain 33 percent contained. A total of over 700 personnel are engaged on these fires.

 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Oregon Department of Forestry Daily Fire Update - Saturday, September 2, 2017


Fire danger this holiday week-end is high to extreme throughout Oregon

 

There are Red Flag Warnings across much of Oregon today, as well as extreme heat warnings and air quality alerts. As the holiday week-end – and these same conditions – continue, Oregon also continues to be at risk for high to extreme fire danger. From three months without significant rain, to fuels as dry as it is possible for them to be and scarce available firefighting resources, the situation is ideal for new fire starts and extreme fire behavior on existing fires. As you are out and about over the next few days, and beyond, please help prevent human-caused fires. Know and follow the fire restrictions and closures for where you are located or will be traveling. To find that information on ODF-protected lands by area, go to http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx.

 

And, from the frontlines of the Horse Prairie Fire Camp - just one of the large fires in Oregon where thousands of firefighters are spending their holiday week-end - here is a brief fire prevention video to help spread the message and remind us all to do our part to prevent those human-caused fires and Keep Oregon Green. We encourage you to share it out on your own social media sites - https://www.facebook.com/odfprevention/videos/699961523461728/.

 

New wildfires on ODF-protected forestlands

There were no new wildfires 10 acres or larger reported on ODF-protected forestlands over the past 24 hours.

 

Updates on existing Oregon wildfires

Growth slowed on some large existing fires in Oregon and increased on others. There are now four wildfires or wildfire complexes in the state over 20,000 acres in size. ODF has personnel engaged in or closely monitoring many of those 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.

 

Chetco Bar Fire - in Curry County

Oregon's largest wildfire has grown to 142,857 acres, of which at least 18,000 are land protected by ODF through the Coos Forest Protective Association, with containment remaining at 10 percent. There are 1,562 personnel assigned to this fire.

 

While winds were less than predicted yesterday, the fire still spread north and northwest in the Hog Mountain and Pistol River area, eastward, further into lands burned during the Biscuit Fire and southeast, in the area north of Bailey Mountain. Multiple smoke columns were visible, some up to 10,000 feet high.

 

Firefighters built handline in the southeast corner where fire crossed containment lines Thursday night and connected dozer lines with road systems to establish containment lines. In the Winchuck area, and along the western perimeter, Oregon State Fire Marshal task forces maintained hoselays and sprinkler systems and performed tactical patrols. Crews have mopped up about 100 feet inside that fire perimeter. Dense smoke limited the use of aircraft.

 

Today tactical patrols on the southwest and western perimeter of the fire continue. Construction of direct and indirect lines northeast toward the Pistol River is ongoing. Crews are mopping up on the west and northwest side of the fire. On the eastern flank, firefighters continue to re-establish and improve the firelines that were constructed during previous fires. To the south, firefighters are looking at opportunities for fireline construction, which may extend into California. Aircraft may be hampered by dense smoke and limited visibility.

 

Extreme to Hazardous smoke impacts are being seen in local communities near the fire, with reduced visibility. Coastal communities in the area may see some improvement this afternoon, however, inland communities down valley of the fire will remain in heavy smoke.

 

The Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Blue Team is transitioning to the Green Team, however, the number of firefighters and equipment committed by Oregon State Fire Marshal remains unchanged.

 

Evacuations remain in place in Curry County, however, this morning the Curry County Sheriff announced that some of the Level 3 evacuations have been reduced to a Level 2. More information on this Evacuation Re-Entry Plan is on Inciweb at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/5385/39772/.

 

The Red Cross evacuation shelter is in Gold Beach at the Curry County Fairgrounds showcase building, 29392 Ellensburg Avenue. Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation is also operating a shelter at the Xaa-wan’-k’wvt Village & Resort (old Ship Ashore) RV Park located at 12370 Highway 101 North in Smith River. Residents are encouraged to monitor the interactive evacuation map for changes: http://arcg.is/2vWQN2N.

 

There will be a Community Fire Briefing on Sunday, September 3, at 7 p.m. in Cave Junction at the Illinois Valley High School.

 

There are no closures on Highway 101, and local businesses, restaurants, and lodging establishments in Brookings and Harbor remain open for business. Several large wildfires are burning in southwest Oregon. Area closures have been implemented on the Rogue River – Siskyou National Forest and BLM lands. Fire restrictions are in place: http://bit.ly/2erUN5B.

 

Horse Prairie Fire – Douglas Forest Protective Association

The Horse Prairie Fire is now estimated at 11,775 acres and remains 15 percent contained. Approximately 950 personnel are engaged on the fire which is located about 12 miles west of Riddle. There are Level 3 evacuations in effect for residences on portions of Lower Cow Creek and Doe roads, with local fire departments’ engines posted at all nine affected homes. Road and area closures also remain in effect.

 

Jade Creek Fire - Klamath-Lake District / Fremont-Winema National Forest

This lightning-caused fire is 1,600 acres with no containment yet. It is burning about 15 miles east of Bly on private land and land managed by the U.S. Forest Service in an area of sagebrush, grass, juniper, timber and logging slash. Due to the complexity of this wind-driven fire, an Interagency (Type 2) Incident Management Team assumed command of the fire today and approximately 200 personnel are now engaged on this fire. Campgrounds and hikers in the fire’s area have been evacuated and others are on alert in case subsequent evacuations are needed. Road, trail, and area closures are in effect. Travelers on Highway 140 between Bly and Lakeview should be aware of decreased visibility due to smoke, intermittent road closures, and emergency response vehicles in the area.

 

Potato Hill Fire – Willamette National Forest

The Potato Hill Fire is burning near Highway 20 and FS Road 2690 (on the south side of Highway 20 directly opposite of the Lost Lake area). Crews, engines, and dozers have made significant progress using direct and indirect tactics to suppress the fire. Smoke from this 165-acre fire could impact Highway 20 visibility at night and early morning. Please slow down, turn your headlights on, and expect temporary delays and pilot car operations on Highway 20 while firefighters are working in the area. Call 511 or visit tripcheck.com for current road conditions.

 

Milli Fire - Deschutes National Forest

This lightning-caused fire grew by 251 acres to 22,718 acres. Containment remains at 44 percent. Fuels continue to burn within the fire perimeter, as well as to the southwest and west. As of today, approximately 1,268 acres of ODF-protected lands have burned within this fire’s perimeter; additional ODF-protected acres may be involved as the fire continues to burn pockets of unburned fuel within the perimeter. Fire behavior was active yesterday, with flanking, backing, short-range spotting, and isolated pockets of unburned trees continuing to torch.

 

Note: the incident management team on the Milli Fire is now also managing the Nash Fire (which had previously been included in the Horse Creek Complex). That fire merged yesterday with the Separation Fire, and current acreage on that total fire area is still not known this morning and not included in this report.

 

Naylox Fire - Klamath-Lake District

The fire is located about 10 miles north of Klamath Falls. It is now 40 percent contained, has been mapped at 423 acres, and the cause remains under investigation. Level 1 evacuations and local road closures in the area of Algoma Road remain in place. Travelers along Highway 97 North are asked to continue to be vigilant in watching for emergency vehicle traffic and to reduce speed as needed. Unless the situation changes, this will be the final daily report on this fire.

 

Falcon Complex - Umpqua National Forest

There was no new growth reported on this fire, which remains at 2,935 acres size and containment at 55 percent. The fires are burning in timber roughly 17 miles north of Prospect in southern Oregon. The incident management team has successfully kept these lightning-caused fires from spreading to ODF-protected lands.

 

High Cascades Complex - in and around Crater Lake National Park

Oregon's third largest wildfire complex grew by 989 acres yesterday and is currently 27,321 acres and 38 percent contained. Road, trail and area closures remain in effect.

 

Jones Fire - Willamette National Forest

This fire grew by 747 acres yesterday and is now reported at 7,940 acres and 51 percent contained. An ODF branch is integrated with the interagency incident management team on this fire to protect private lands. The fire is located east of Springfield and about 10 miles northeast of the town of Lowell.

 

Miller Complex - Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

Growth on this group of fires yesterday was 1,072 acres and the complex is now 16,012 acres, with containment remaining at 40 percent. The Complex is burning in southwest Jackson County in difficult, timbered terrain about 17 miles east of Cave Junction. ODF continues to actively engage here to keep these fires from spreading to lands protected by ODF.

 

North Pelican Fire - Fremont-Winema National Forest

There was moderate growth of 100 acres on this lightning-caused fire to a total of 1,900 acres and it remains at 18 percent contained. The fire is burning about 25 miles north of Klamath Falls.

 

Rebel Fire - Willamette National Forest

This fire grew by approximately 200 acres yesterday and is now 6,169 acres and remaining 19 percent contained. The fire is burning in the Three Sisters Wilderness 13 miles south of McKenzie Bridge. Road; trail, and area closures are in effect. This morning, Lane County issued a Level 1 (Be Ready) Evacuation Order for residents and campers along Oregon Route 242, due to the potential fire danger in nearby forests. A community meeting related to this fire and the Horse Creek Complex will be held Sunday, September 3, at the Upper McKenzie Community Center in Blue River.

 

Staley Fire - Willamette National Forest

This fire again grew more slowly yesterday, increasing by about 80 acres to a total of 2,234 acres, and is now 69 percent contained. A forest closure for the fire area, including roads and trails, remain in effect on this lightning-caused fire, which is 23 miles south of Oakridge. Resources, including seven crews, were released yesterday from this fire for other fire assignments, and the team managing this fire is helping to respond with initial attack on new fire starts in the area. On September 3, the Incident Management Team on this fire plan to turn it over to the IMT that is currently managing the Jones Fire.

 

Umpqua North Complex - Umpqua National Forest 

The second largest wildfire complex in Oregon is now 27,344 acres in size, a growth of 1,986 acres, with containment at 20 percent. More than a thousand firefighters are engaged on this complex of 15 lightning-caused fires that are located about 50 miles east of Roseburg along Highway 138.

 

Whitewater Fire - Willamette National Forest

This lightning-caused fire is burning in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area. The fire grew yesterday by 69 acres, bringing the total acres burned to 11,229, and it is now 33 percent contained.

 

Fire statistics on ODF-protected land 

 

January 1, 2017 to Sept. 2, 2017:

Lightning-caused fires: 218 fires burned 2,743 acres *

Human-caused fires: 598 fires burned 1,884 acres *

Total: 816 fires burned 4,627 acres *

 

10-year average - January 1 to this date:

Lightning-caused fires: 258 fires burned 28,288 acres

Human-caused fires: 505 fires burned 5,156 acres 

Total: 763 fires burned 33,444 acres

 

* Numbers here may be rounded and may not reflect current totals, since reporting of official acres burned can take some time, particularly during a busy fire season. For example, today's totals do not include any acres burned from the Chetco Bar Fire, Horse Prairie Fire, and other ongoing large fires that include ODF jurisdiction.

 

 

 

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, in the summer of 2017 a series of heatwaves and a prolonged stretch of dry weather created conditions that dried forest fuels, allowing fires to start and spread. The result was more than a thousand fires on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry.Ninety-five percent of these 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.





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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.