Current situation

Check with your local district or forest protection association for restrictions or use ODF's fire restrictions and closures web page for the latest details at https://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Fire season restrictions begin June 1st in parts of central and southwest Oregon


 
Above: Dry vegetation in much of central and southern
Oregon has prompted ODF district foresters there to declare
June 1 the start of their local fire season.
SALEM, Ore. - Starting at midnight on Friday, June 1, fire season and its associated restrictions will be in effect in the Southwest and Central Oregon districts of the Oregon Department of Forestry and the Walker Range Forest Protective Association. The declarations cover all of Jackson and Josephine counties in southern Oregon as well as Hood River and Grant counties, and portions of Crook, Deschutes, Gilliam, Harney, Jefferson, Morrow, Wasco, Wheeler and northern Klamath and northwestern Lake counties.

Local conditions dictate when fire risk reaches the level that fire restrictions start to become warranted. You can check whether fire season is in effect in your area and what restrictions or closures may be in place by visiting ODF's external website.
 
In announcing the start of fire season in Central Oregon, District Forester Mike Shaw said, "Across the district, spring has brought limited rainfall and right now we are seeing fuel conditions drier than they were at this time last year."
 
Southwest Oregon District Forester Dave Larson said, “The district’s hope is that going into fire season on June 1st will help curb the number of human-caused fires, especially escaped debris burn piles.”
 
Although the number of acres burned so far this year has been modest, there have already been more than 130 wildfires reported on land protected by ODF. About half that total has occurred in the districts entering fire season tomorrow.

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Smoke from wildfires

Oregon's governor declares a drought emergency for Lake County


(SALEM, Ore.) — Gov. Kate Brown announced on May 31 a drought emergency for Lake County due to low snowpack and precipitation, low streamflows, and warming temperatures as Oregon braces for the upcoming wildfire season.

Above: Four eastern Oregon counties are now
in official drought emergencies. Dry conditions
allow fire to spread more easily.
"Forecasts are predicting severe drought and wildfire conditions for much of Oregon," Gov. Brown said. "The conditions in Lake County are already concerning, and I'm directing state agencies to prioritize assistance in the area to help minimize the impacts drought conditions could have on the local economy."

Forecasted water conditions are not expected to improve. The drought is likely to increase fire risk and have significant impacts on agriculture, livestock, natural resources, and the local economy. Lake County officials requested the state to take action on March 21, and the Oregon Drought Council considered the county's' requests by weighing current water conditions, future climatic forecasts, and agricultural impacts.

The Governor's drought declaration allows increased flexibility in how water is managed to ensure that limited supplies are used as efficiently as possible. Oregon’s state agencies will continue to work with local governments and other partners to coordinate efforts and mobilize actions to address drought-related issues. The Governor’s drought declaration authorizes state agencies to expedite water management tools that users would not otherwise have access.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Drought emergencies now exist in Grant, Harney and Klamath counties

Gov. Kate Brown announced May 24 a drought emergency for Harney County, citing low snowpack and precipitation, low streamflows, and warming temperatures as Oregon braces for the upcoming wildfire season. The county joins Grant and Klamath counties in being in a drought emergency.

Harney County officials requested the state take action. The Oregon Drought Council considered the county's requests by weighing current water conditions, future climatic forecasts, and agricultural impacts.

“Oregon has already experienced hotter and dryer than usual conditions, and drought conditions in Harney County are expected to worsen in the months ahead,” Governor Brown said. “To minimize the impacts of drought on the local economy and community, I'm directing state agencies to work with local and federal partners to provide assistance to Harney County.”

Forecasted water conditions are not expected to improve. In addition to increasing wildfire risk, drought is likely to have significant impacts on agriculture, livestock, natural resources, and the local economy.

The Governor's drought declaration allows increased flexibility in how water is managed to ensure that limited supplies are used as efficiently as possible. Oregon’s state agencies will continue to work with local governments and other partners to coordinate efforts and mobilize actions to address drought-related issues. The Governor’s drought declaration authorizes state agencies to expedite water management tools to which users would not otherwise have access.

As state and local officials coordinate with federal partners, conditions will be closely monitored by the state’s natural resource and public safety agencies, including the Oregon Water Resources Department and the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.

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.

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 about current wildfires. Please keep your posts civil and free of profanity.

Current wildfire info

National weather forecasters predictions that Oregon would see above average temperatures and below average rainfall in the summer of 2018 proved true. Almost all of Oregon was abnormally dry this summer, with a majority of the state in moderate to severe drought. Many areas posted record high temperatures or record strings of hot days. 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.

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.