Current situation

Summer arrives this week, with maximum daylight hours. Having longer hours of sunshine allows more time for fuels to dry out with less overnight recovery of humidity.

ODF's Western Lane and South Cascade districts have announced both will enter fire season on Thursday, June 21. The districts protect lands in Lane and Linn counties and a portion of northwest Douglas County. Six other ODF districts and forest protective associations are already in fire season - Walker-Range Forest Protective Association, Coos FPA, Douglas FPA and the Southwest Oregon, Central Oregon and Klamath-Lake ODF districts.

Fire restrictions associated with fire season can be found on the ODF Restrictions and Closures page at this link http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx




Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Governor declares two more Oregon counties to be in drought


SALEM, Ore. — Gov. Kate Brown announced on June 18 a drought emergency for Baker and Douglas counties due to low snowpack and precipitation, low streamflows and warming temperatures. The declaration comes in the last week of spring as Oregon braces for summer wildfires.
 
Above: Spring flowers belie the fact that drought has
officially been declared in Klamath County
along with four others in eastern Oregon and
Douglas County in southern Oregon.  
Drought conditions have been intensifying in eastern Oregon, with drought emergencies already declared in Grant, Harney, Klamath and Lake counties. Douglas County is the first county west of the Cascades to receive a drought declaration.

“All signs point to another record-breaking drought and wildfire season for Oregon,” Gov. Brown said. “That means we must continue our urgent work to build communities that are ready for the challenges of climate change. I have directed state agencies stand ready to help and work with local communities to provide assistance."

 
Forecasted water conditions are not expected to improve, and drought is likely to have significant impacts on agriculture, livestock, natural resources, and the local economies. Baker and Douglas County officials requested the state to take action, and the Oregon Drought Council considered the counties' 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 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.


Friday, June 15, 2018

Six ODF districts or FPAs are in fire season


Currently, six ODF districts and fire protective associations are in fire season:
  • Coos Forest Protective Association
  • Douglas Forest Protective Association
  • Walker Range Forest Protective Association
  • Central Oregon District
  • Klamath-Lake District
  • Southwest Oregon District
For most Lane County residents, today (Friday, June 15) marks the last day for outdoor burning until October, according to the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA). The end of outdoor burning is due to elevated fire danger during the summer months. Outdoor burning is not expected to resume until the end of wildfire season this autumn.

During the closed season, yard debris may be disposed of at one of several local debris collection or recycling centers such as, Lane Forest Products, Rexius Forest By-Products, or Lane County’s transfer stations and dump sites. Composting and chipping are always encouraged and many residents in the urban growth boundaries of Eugene and Springfield also have option to use curbside yard debris pick up.

Residents who burn during the closed season are subject to violations ranging from $50 to $2,500 or more. "The average residential open burning fine runs about $300, depending upon the size of the fire and materials being burned," said Jo Niehaus, LRAPA Spokesperson. "Illegal burning during the dry summer months also increases the risk of wildfires that can damage property and destroy homes."

Backyard debris burning - which includes burn piles and burn barrels - is one of the leading causes of human-caused wildfires in Oregon.

Some Lane County residents can expect to see the outdoor burning season reopen in October with a new change. Residents living inside the Eugene Urban Growth Boundary but outside the City Limits of Eugene must be on 2 acres or larger to burn in the fall.

The Lane County Fire Defense Board will decide if the season will open on time on the first of October or delay opening due to high fire risks. People can check on the season’s status by going online at www.lrapa.org or calling the LRAPA daily open burning advisory line, (541) 726-3976. Coastal residents may call (541) 997-1757.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Fire season begins June 8 in Klamath-Lake and Douglas, Coos FPAs



Above: Firefighters across Oregon have already
been busy battling numerous small fires.
Here, firefighters from the Douglas Forest
Protective Association work to put out
the 1.5-acre Formosa Mine Fire near Riddle.
The Douglas Forest Protective Association, Coos Forest Protective Association and ODF's Klamath-Lake District have announced that their 2018 fire seasons will begin Friday, June 8. The three join the Walker Range Forest Protective Association and ODF's Southwest and Central Oregon districts, which declared the start of their fire seasons on June 1.

The declaration of fire season imposes certain fire restrictions on both the general public and industrial operators to help prevent wildfires. The restrictions apply to all private, county, state, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Affairs lands protected against fire by these entities. DFPA protects those lands in Douglas County. The Klamath-Lake District protects much of Klamath and western Lake counties in south-central Oregon. Coos FPA protects Curry, Coos and coastal portions of western Douglas County.

The start of fire season means debris burning is now prohibited. Those wishing to burn yard debris before Friday's fire season start are encouraged to exercise caution and never leave a burn unattended. Fire officials recommend checking any debris piles that were burned earlier this year to make sure they are completely out. If not thoroughly extinguished, burn piles have the potential to smolder for weeks or even months, popping back to life on warm, windy days.  

The use of exploding targets and tracer ammunition is also prohibited during fire season. Sky lanterns are prohibited year-round throughout Oregon. 

Fire season also means the start of industrial fire regulations. On Friday, the entire Douglas and Coos FPAs will go into Industrial Fire Precaution Level I (one.)  During IFPL I, smoking is prohibited while working on, or traveling through, an industrial operation.  In addition, specified fire tools and suppression equipment must be on site and ready for use at all operations.  A fire watch service is also required when work ends for the day.

In Klamath-Lake District, regulated use is in effect for lands protected by the district which are within half a mile of the Klamath River from the Keno Dam to the Oregon/California border.

As fire season progresses, additional public and industrial fire restrictions may be imposed as fire conditions become more severe.

For more information:

On lands protected by Douglas FPA:
- call their Closure Information Line at 541-672-0379 or visit www.dfpa.net

On lands protected by the Klamath-Lake District:
- for Klamath County call 541-883-5681
- for Lake County call 541-947-3311

On lands protected by Coos FPA:
- call Coos Closure Information Line at 541-267-1789 or visit www.coosfpa.net

An interactive map with statewide fire restrictions can be viewed online at https://gisapps.odf.oregon.gov/firerestrictions/PFR.html 
 
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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

No further growth expected on 42-acre fire outside Scappoose


Above: Smoke rises from the Chapman Grange Road No. 1 Fire.
The fire was reported Sunday and is now 100% lined.
The 42-acre fire outside Scappoose highlights how dry conditions
 are for this time of year in northwest Oregon.
 
SCAPPOOSE, Ore. - Oregon Department of Forestry firefighters have finished control lines around 100% of the Chapman Grange Road No. 1 Fire seven miles northwest of Scappoose. No more growth is expected on the fire, which has been mapped at 42 acres. On Monday morning firefighters burned out 3-4 acres to tie the fire together. 
 
The fire was reported on Sunday afternoon , June 3 by a Life Flight helicopter taking a patient to Portland. Scappoose Rural Fire Protection District engaged in the initial attack before transferring the fire to ODF. Vernonia Rural Fire District assisted with a water tender. ODF's Forest Grove Unit also supplied a water tender.

During the fire's first 24 hours it actively spotted 30 to 50 feet in all directions ahead of the flames, even on the backing side.  It pushed more than 100 feet into the timber across 12-foot wide gravel roads before slowing down and burning in 5 to 6-foot high green Douglas-fir trees.
 
"Those young Douglas-firs and the green underbrush burned amazingly well for this time of year.  Multiple duffy stumps in the timber within 50 feet of the control lines were receptive to embers. Once heated, fire spread to the surrounding vegetation even at 1 a.m.," said ODF's Columbia City Unit Forester Malcolm Hiatt. 

According to Hiatt, along streams the fire behaved normally for what fire managers would expect in June, but in all other fuel types the fire acted like it was the second week of August. Across much of northwest Oregon, rainfall has been only a fraction of normal for May and early June, leading to fuel moisture levels that are at or near historic lows for this date. 

Working on the fire today are one Type 6 engine from Astoria and one Type 6 engine from Columbia City along with two water tenders and 4 South Fork crews. ODF also has a  log loader on order to help tear apart some landing piles.

Hiatt said firefighters hope to have 50 feet mopped in on all sides by the end of shift Tuesday. Mop up will continue for the rest of the week with a reduction in resources starting with Wednesday's day shift. There have been no injuries or accidents and no structures were threatened by the fire. 

 

Monday, June 4, 2018

ODF is continuing suppression on slash fire outside Scappoose


FOREST GROVE, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Forestry’s Columbia City Unit is fighting a fire in logging slash on private land about 7 miles northwest of Scappoose this morning in the Chapman Grange Road area. No structures are threatened.
Above: Handcrews work on controlling a fire in logging slash on private land
about 7 miles northwest of Scappoose. The fire was reported Sunday afternoon.
 
 
Four hand crews from South Fork Forest Camp, three ODF fire engines and a water tender are engaged today on the fire, which is burning in steep, rugged terrain. About 50 personnel are currently on site. The Chapman Road No. 1 Fire was estimated at about 30 acres this morning. Control lines are in place around about half the fire. A controlled burnout is being conducted to reduce fuels in the center of the fire area.
 
The fire was reported Sunday, June 3 after 4 p.m.  Scappoose Fire District located the fire and provided aggressive initial attack.  ODF was on scene with a joint command structure at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, and assumed full command of the fire at 10 p.m.
 
Some 48 firefighters worked on the fire through the night, including assistance from the Vernonia Rural Fire Department and four South Fork inmate crews.  Cause of the fire is under investigation.
 
Before sunset Sunday, the fire was spotting 30-50 feet away from the flame front with sustained winds of 11 miles per hour and 50% relative humidity.
 
Fire managers expect the fire will burn much of Monday as they work to contain it, making smoke visible from surrounding communities. The area is experiencing light winds from the northwest with a 20% chance of showers in the afternoon.

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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.