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, May 3, 2018

Prepare for wildfires during Wildfire Awareness Month


In the wake of last year’s serious wildfire season, the governors of Oregon and nine other Western states have proclaimed May 2018 as Wildfire Awareness Month. The chief executives signed a joint proclamation encouraging all citizens to “take steps to better prepare their home and communities for wildfires and work toward becoming a fire-adapted community."

Above: People who live in or near forest or grasslands
should clear vegetation and other fuels
from near their home to reduce the risk from wildfire.
During May, the 10 states are partnering with fire prevention agencies and organizations to increase awareness of wildfires. In Oregon, there are new public service announcements, some featuring Gov. Kate Brown. The announcements explain how every Oregonian can take steps to keep their home and the state safer from wildfire.

Kris Babbs, president of the Keep Oregon Green Association, said, “The Governor, along with the Keep Oregon Green Association, the Oregon Department of Forestry and the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal, is seeking the public’s help to prevent human-caused wildfires like the ones that swept the state last summer.”

Wildfires – 45% of which were caused by humans – burned approximately 717,000 acres statewide last year, disrupting travel, degrading air quality, damaging trails and destroying homes and other resources.

“When it comes to preventing wildfires, there’s a lot at stake – lives, personal property, and the many resources provided by Oregon’s forests and rangelands,” said Babbs. “People caused more than 900 wildfires in Oregon last year. So people can make a big difference in reducing the number of wildfires.”  

”It is vital that all Oregonians work with their neighbors to plan and prepare for fire season, especially in those areas currently experiencing drought as well as the more fire-prone landscapes of central and southwest Oregon. Educating yourself now about how fires can get started will be key in reducing wildfire starts,” said Babbs.

She said Wildfire Awareness Month will provide lots of opportunities for people to educate themselves about wildfire causes and consequences and to participate in community fire prevention projects.

Wildfires can start at home
Wildfires in the wildland-urban interface often are started by human activity, such as debris burning or lawn mowing, and then spread to the forest. Once underway, a fire follows the fuel, whether it is trees or houses.

Oregon Department of Forestry’s Fire Prevention Coordinator Tom Fields said, “Simple prevention strategies can make your home, family and community much safer. Spring is the perfect time to remove dead or flammable vegetation from around houses and other structures and to limb up trees around the yard. The goal is to reduce nearby fuels that pose a fire risk,” he said.

To get an early start on Wildfire Awareness Month, join your neighbors in reducing your community’s wildfire risk by taking part in National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on Saturday, May 5. The National Fire Protection Association has teamed up with State Farm Insurance to encourage residents to commit a couple of hours, or the entire day, to raising wildfire awareness and working on projects that can protect homes and entire communities from the threat of fire.

To learn even more, from May through June the World Forestry Center in northwest Portland is hosting a family-friendly exhibit about wildfire produced by the Oregon Department of Forestry and the Keep Oregon Green Association. Smokey Bear will be on site on Saturday, May 5 to kick off the exhibit and again on Saturday, June 9. There will be displays of fire-resistant plants and maps showing Oregon wildfires.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Oregon Department of Forestry prepares for 2018’s wildfires with seasonal hiring, contracting, training and technology


SALEM, Ore. — With smoke from the 2017 wildfires still fresh in the minds of Oregonians, the Oregon Department of Forestry is already gearing up for this summer’s wildfires.
 
The agency’s Interim Fire Operations Manager Blake Ellis said a lot of preparation goes on behind the scenes each winter and spring. “We work to ensure firefighters are equipped and ready to respond quickly and effectively to wildfires all year, with a special emphasis on being staffed and ready for the drier months,” said Ellis. ” We essentially double our firefighting forces going into the summer, when wildfire risk is highest.”
 
Readiness activities include:

·       Contracts and agreements for firefighting equipment, aircraft and other resources have been signed

·       A new policy governing use of remotely piloted aerial vehicles (also known as drones or UAVs) has been adopted. These systems will support fire protection and natural resource management.

·       Hiring of seasonal firefighters is underway. New firefighters will attend training at ODF and interagency fire schools across the state in June.

·       Permanent and returning firefighters will take fire line refresher training over the next two months.

·       Hundreds of miles of fire hose have been cleaned and rolled, ready for use statewide.
 
Last year ODF had great success testing out infrared technology. Carried on aerial vehicles, the equipment was able to see through heavy smoke on two Oregon wildfires – Horse Prairie and Eagle Creek. These systems provide sharp images and real-time fire mapping for fire managers, boosting safety and tactical planning. This year ODF is incorporating these technologies into its toolkit.
 
ODF’s Aviation Manager Neal Laugle said the increasing use of various types of aircraft in recent years highlights the importance of keeping up with new technology to achieve the agency’s mission. “From detection to fire mapping and active wildfire suppression, aircraft continue to play a critical role in the fight to save lives, resources and property,” said Laugle.
Above: A large air tanker drops water in Grant County
 as part of a demonstration of its firefighting capabilities.

Last year, contracted aircraft flew 1,477 hours on firefighting missions for ODF, more than 100 hours above average, he said. For 2018 the agency has contracted the same number of aircraft as last year.
 
“We have 27 aircraft based across the state, including helicopters, fixed-wing detection planes, single-engine air tankers and a large airtanker, all of which we’ve secured for our exclusive use. We also have call-when needed agreements with a number of companies for additional firefighting aircraft. Among these agreements is one for the use of a 747 modified to carry 19,000 gallons of retardant should the situation warrant.”
 
ODF will continue to have access to aviation resources from other states and federal agencies upon request.
 
“Uncontrolled fires can be devastating. Our relationships with our partners are invaluable to support prevention and suppression efforts statewide,” said Ellis.
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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.

Followers

About Me

My photo
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.