|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
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