Current situation

Smoke from wildfires in British Columbia and Washington continue to affect air quality in much of northern Oregon today. Meanwhile, smoke from multiple wildfires again hovers over southwest Oregon. Mostly dry thunderstorms are predicted through Friday in southern and eastern Oregon, which could result in lightning-sparked fires.


Many ODF districts and forest protective associations are in high or extreme fire danger with tightened restrictions on activities linked to fire starts. Check ODF's fire restrictions and closures web page for the latest details at http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx.

Friday, October 20, 2017

2017 fire season comes to a close

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.
The Oregon Department of Forestry has officially ended fire season on all private and public lands it protects statewide, with the last district - Southwest Oregon - lifting fire restrictions at 9 a.m. today (Friday, Oct. 20).

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

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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 are predicting the summer of 2018 will see above average temperatures and below average rainfall. Drought has already been declared in a number of counties in eastern and southern Oregon, with northwest Oregon also unusually dry for June. 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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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.