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Thursday, July 12, 2018

300 Oregon National Guard members wrap up firefighter training ahead of peak fire season

CAMP RILEA, Ore. - Wildland firefighter training wrapped up at this military training center on the Oregon coast today for some 300 Oregon National Guard members.

Above: ODF Protection Unit Forester Neal Bond
fires a very pistol (a type of flare gun) to start a controlled
fire at Camp Rilea, a military training center.
 Oregon National Guard members practiced hands-on firefighting
techniques at the fire to get ready for this summer.
Sixteen instructors from the Oregon Department of Forestry, Washington Department of Natural Resources, National Wildfire Suppression Association and Oregon Office of Emergency Management participated guided the Guard members through classroom and field exercises to get them ready for deployment later this summer to wildfires across the state.

Last year, more than 700 Oregon National Guard members were mobilized during the peak of fire season to help firefighters battle a number of persistent large wildfires statewide. That year, Guard members did not receive the week-long training until they were mobilized. This year, thanks to changes in how federal training funds can be used, the Guard could train before being mobilized to a wildfire.

ODF's Deputy Chief of Fire Protection Russ Lane said several hundred other Oregon Guard troops who trained last year have completed or soon will complete required refresher training. That gives the state access to the same number of Oregon National Guard member as last year.

"By training Guard members ahead of when they will be needed, we can get Guard members to a fire about five to six days sooner than in the past," said  Lane. "That can make a huge difference in freeing up our resources to respond to other large wildfires."

Holding the training earlier in the summer also frees up instructors during peak fire activity, Lane said, making them available to help their agencies manage wildfires.

Right: Oregon National Guard members
gather around their instructor
before a firefighting field exercise
at Camp Rilea on Oregon's north coast.

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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 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.


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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.