Current situation

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.








Thursday, December 21, 2017

ODF and association firefighters will return to Oregon from California before Christmas

Over 60 firefighting personnel from Oregon Department of Forestry districts and Coos and Douglas Forest Protective Associations will be returning to Oregon this holiday weekend from Southern California, where they have been helping battle the Thomas Fire. That fire is now reported as 60% contained. The firefighters will be returning in the same 25 fire engines in which they traveled to California.

Above: Firefighters from ODF's Eastern Oregon Area
pause for a group photo after fighting
the Thomas Fire in Southern California.
 
The ODF and association firefighters have been engaged on the fire northwest of Los Angeles for almost two weeks. During that time, the Thomas Fire has grown to more than 272,000 acres, almost equal to the 2003 Cedar Fire in San Diego, which has stood as the largest wildfire in California in modern times.

Oregon sent the largest contingent of fire engines and personnel from out of state to help California with the massive blaze, which began on Dec. 4. Earlier this week some 300 other Oregon firefighters deployed to California through the Oregon Office of the State Fire Marshal were demobilized.

Unusually prolonged Santa Ana winds spread the fire through rugged terrain in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. The lack of significant rainfall in the area since February provided ample dead and dry fuel that carried the fire deep into the Los Padres National Forest as well as nearby communities.

The ODF and association firefighters dug control lines and put out spot fires during their assignment. Their mobilization was part of a mutual-aid agreement that this summer saw California firefighters travel north to help during an especially intense outbreak of wildfires in Oregon. 

At the peak of the Thomas Fire, the ODF and association firefighters were part of a virtual army of more than 8,400 firefighters assigned to the fire. Wind-driven flames forced the evacuation of thousands of area residents and destroyed more than a thousand structures, according to Cal Fire’s official information website.

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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: 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 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.

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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.