Sunny and dry conditions again prevail across Oregon this week. Mild temperatures will give way to warmer conditions, melting snow and drying fuels faster. This will raise fire risk across the state. There have already been twice as many wildfires on ODF-protected land compared to the same time last year, with more than twice as many acres burned.
May is Wildfire Awareness Month, a time when homeowners are urged to take steps to reduce the risk of wildfire around their house and other structures. Among these are clearing debris from roofs and gutters, cutting back brush from around structures, and removing lower branches from trees.
Wednesday, December 27, 2017
According to Cal Fire, the Thomas Fire is now 88% contained and is not expected to spread further. The number of personnel assigned to the fire has reportedly fallen below 900.
Thursday, December 21, 2017
|Above: Firefighters from ODF's Eastern Oregon Area |
pause for a group photo after fighting
the Thomas Fire in Southern California.
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
|Above: Smoke from the Thomas Fire rises |
above ODF fire engines and crews.
Monday, December 18, 2017
|Above: Oregon firefighters deployed by ODF |
to the Thomas Fire put out a spot fire
threatening an avocado orchard.
|Above: Some 25 fire engines are deployed |
to the Thomas Fire from several ODF districts
and the Coos and Douglas Forest Protective Associations.
Prolonged Santa Ana winds have fanned the Thomas Fire since it began Dec.4, contributing to its rapid growth and extreme fire behavior. These winds originate as a high-pressure system over the Great Basin and upper Mojave Desert. The cool, dry air sweeps across the deserts of eastern California before funneling through mountain passes and canyons to the Pacific Ocean. Three things happen when Santa Ana winds are blowing: it gets warmer, wind speed increases and humidity plummets, all of which increase fire risk.
Thursday, December 14, 2017
|Above: Flames from Southern California's|
Thomas Fire shoot up over shrubs left dry
by months without rain.
Photo from Inciweb by Kari Greer.
Cal Fire reported today that there has been one firefighter fatality on the Thomas Fire involving one of that agency's California staffers. ODF extends its condolences to that firefighter's family and to all our colleagues at Cal Fire. As more details are released by Cal Fire we will share that information.
ODF's agency representative at the Thomas Fire reports that all 62 firefighting personnel deployed there from ODF districts and the Coos and Douglas Forest Protective Associations are safe. The Oregon Office of the State Fire Marshal is reporting that the 300 Oregon firefighters deployed through that office and other fire entities are also safe.
Our firefighters are among more than 8,000 personnel engaged on the Thomas Fire, which is burning in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties northwest of Los Angeles. It has grown to more than 242,000 acres, making it the fourth largest wildfire in modern California history. As in any wildfire, firefighter safety is a top priority for our task force leaders and crews.
A red-flag warning is in effect until 10 a.m. Friday. No rain is forecast. In Santa Barbara County, the fire continues to threaten Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Summerland, Montecito and surroundings areas. Some 18,000 structures are reported at risk and big sections of the Los Padres National Forest have burned. High fuel loading, critically low fuel moistures, above-average temperatures and single-digit relative humidities are reported to be spurring growth on the fire's west, east and north sides. Despite that, firefighters have made progress on the fire. As of this morning the fire was reported as 30% contained.
While wildfires occur every year in California, 14 of the 20 largest fires by acres burned have all occurred since 2001, according to Cal Fire statistics. Eight of those mega-fires happened just in the past decade.
For the latest information about the Thomas Fire, visit Cal Fire's incident information page at http://www.fire.ca.gov/current_incidents.
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Detroit and Idanha join about 1,400 other communities nationwide who have taken the five necessary steps to earn Firewise USA status since the program started in 2002. About 124 Oregon communities have earned the designation. Most are in southern and central Oregon, with about half in Jackson and Deschutes counties.
The steps all communities seeking Firewise status in Oregon must take are:
For their Firewise Day event on May 6, both Detroit and Idanha held a free disposal day for vegetation residents removed from around their buildings. Keeping trees and shrubs at least 30 feet away from structures creates a defensible space and makes it harder for wildfire to catch a building on fire.
The risk-reduction moves were timely as in July the Whitewater Fire started nearby in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness. That fire would eventually grow to over 14,400 acres, coming close enough to threaten both communities.
Representatives from the Oregon Department of Forestry, U.S. Forest Service and the Idanha-Detroit Rural Fire Protection District as well as local dignitaries and volunteers will be on hand for the public unveiling of the Firewise USA signs.
Monday, December 11, 2017
The Oregon firefighters traveled from various points around the state to California on Friday and Saturday. All arrived over the weekend at the California Southern Region Prado Mobilization Center in Chino, about 35 miles east of Los Angeles.
The ODF firefighters are assigned to the Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara County. As of this morning, Cal Fire was reporting that close to 6,400 firefighters and more than 850 fire engines were engaged in fighting the fire, which is threatening a number of communities. The blaze, fueled by strong winds, has already burned almost 40,000 more acres than this year's largest wildfire in Oregon (the 191,125-acre Chetco Bar Fire).
The five ODF task forces, each made up of five engines, were requested by California fire officials through an interstate resource-sharing system known as ROSS (Resource Ordering and Status System). They are in addition to over 300 other Oregon fire service personnel sent to fight Southern California fires by the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office and fellow entities.
“California and Oregon have a longstanding relationship with mutual reciprocation when suppression resources are needed,” said Oregon State Forester Peter Daugherty. “California was there for us during our challenging fire season this year and Oregon is fortunate to have the opportunity to return the favor.”
Severe fire weather is expected to continue, promoting significant fire growth in Santa Barbara County, where a number of communities are under mandatory evacuation orders. Cal Fire has reported that some 18,000 structures are threatened by the fire, with more than having been destroyed. For the latest information about the Thomas Fire, visit Cal Fire incident information page.
This is the second deployment of ODF firefighters and engines to California this year. The deployment in October of five engines and personnel from the Southwest and Klamath-Lake districts was to help with devastating wildfires in Northern California.
During the summer, California firefighting resources were among several out-of-state resources that answered requests to assist with the many fires that were burning across Oregon.
Comments and questions
Current wildfire info
What we do
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.