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.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Southern California's Thomas Fire now stands as the second largest in California since the 1930s

Above: Smoke from the Thomas Fire rises
above ODF fire engines and crews.
Containment on the Thomas Fire in Southern California has reached 60%. This has allowed fire officials to release about a fourth of the personnel assigned to the fire. Among those returning home from the fire are 300 firefighters and support personnel deployed earlier this month through the Oregon Office of the State Fire Marshal, which announced yesterday that the 15 task forces it deployed are returning to Oregon.
 
As of this morning, some 6,500 personnel were still assigned to the fire, including a contingent of 65 firefighters, heavy-equipment bosses and a helicopter crew member from several ODF districts and the Coos and Douglas Forest Protective Associations. They are expected to be demobilized within the next few days. 
 
One hundred of the 161 out-of-state engines that responded to the Thomas Fire under mutual-aid agreements have come from Oregon. Among the fire engines from Oregon are 25 deployed through ODF. Arizona, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Washington State also sent engines. 
 
The Thomas Fire is now reported as 272,000 acres in size. That ranks it second among California wildfires since the 1930s, when reliably accurate sizes began to be recorded for all wildfires. The Thomas Fire is only slightly smaller than the largest wildfire in modern California history - the 2003 Cedar Fire. That fire was also driven by strong Santa Ana winds. It spread across some 273,000 acres, killing 14 people and leaving 104 firefighters injured. By contrast, there has been one firefighter fatality and no reported firefighter injuries at the Thomas Fire.
 
For the latest information about the Thomas Fire, visit Cal Fire's incident information page at www.fire.ca.gov/current_incidents
 
 
Left: A sun turned red by smoke from the Thomas Fire in Southern California sets over two ODF engines. They are part of a contingent of 25 engines the agency deployed as part of a mutual-aid agreement with California. 

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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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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.