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.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

ODF Strike Teams Head Home from the Camp Fire


Strike teams from the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and Douglas Forest Protective Association (DFPA) were released today by Cal Fire from their assignment on the Camp Fire in Butte County, Calif. Heavy rains forecasted for much of the area are expected to improve conditions and provide a much-needed reprieve for wildfire suppression throughout the region.
Reported as the deadliest wildfire in a century, the Camp Fire is estimated at 151,373 acres and 70 percent contained, with at least 79 civilian fatalities reported and over 13,000 structures destroyed. Tasks completed by ODF and DFPA resources included fire line construction and improvements,

Dozer corralling a spot fire across the fire line.

burning operations to assisting in recovery efforts in the City of Paradise and surrounding communities. The teams worked alongside Cal Fire and California Office of Emergency Management as well as numerous fellow firefighting agencies.

The 28 agency and association personnel head home to their families today just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Our crews came down readily willing to serve Cal Fire and the citizens of Butte County,” said ODF Agency Representative Matt Howard. “While the work they completed was within their scope, training and experience, the difference with the Camp Fire was the sheer magnitude of the incident. The severe loss of human life, infrastructure, and natural resources are unlike anything our folks have experienced.

“As the agency representative, I am extremely humbled to have shared this assignment with the two experienced Engine Strike Teams from the Oregon Department of Forestry and Douglas Forest Protective Association. Our homecoming is bittersweet as we head home to our loved ones,” Howard added. “Our heartfelt wishes are with our fellow firefighters, Paradise and surrounding communities, and all those impacted by this tragic fire.”

Brief break for a quick photo of the EOA strike team.

Monday, November 12, 2018

ODF Sends Two Strike Teams to Assist With California Wildfires


ODF has deployed two strike teams with equipment and personnel to assist in suppression efforts for the devastating wildfires in California. This deployment was coordinated with the Oregon Office of Emergency Management through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC).

Using the EMAC system, California fire officials originally requested additional resources to support suppression efforts in the southern portion of the state. The two ODF strike teams, consisting of five Type 6 engines each, two strike team leaders and an agency representative (28 personnel total), departed early Sunday morning. In addition to ODF districts in eastern and southern Oregon, resources include engines and personnel from the Douglas Forest Protection Association.

While en route, the ODF teams received new orders to divert to the Camp Fire near Chico, CA due to the evolving and emergent situation. Both strike teams arrived at the Camp Incident Command Post Sunday evening and will be joining suppression efforts on the front line Monday morning. 

“Oregon and California have a long-standing relationship of mutual aid wherever suppression resources are needed,” said Oregon’s State Forester, Peter Daugherty. “California has come to our aid during our challenging fire seasons and Oregon is now able to help California during this tragic time of need.”

ODF crews receive their assignment
 at Camp Fire Incident Command Post 11-12-18
At the time of arrival, the Camp Fire was reported at 111,000 acres and 25 percent containment, with approximately 6,453 residences destroyed and an additional 15,000 structures threatened. An estimated 31 people have lost their lives and an additional 200 are listed as missing.

The ODF teams will join their Oregon State Fire Marshal counterparts, adding to the growing number of out of state resources joining suppression efforts during these devastating wildfires impacting much of the state. The team anticipates a full 14-day deployment.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

ODF Continues Support for Hurricane Michael Response Efforts


Due to the extensive destruction caused by Hurricane Michael, the Florida Division of Emergency Management requested additional Incident Management Teams.  ODF stepped up to fill this request, working with Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM), and sending a third team to assist with relief and recovery efforts.  


As with recent deployments, this request was coordinated through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). The EMAC provides mutual assistance among states and territories during any governor-declared state of emergency through a responsive system. This structure allows states to send personnel, equipment, and supplies to assist with response and relief efforts in other states.

This ODF Team, led by Incident Commander Link Smith, arrived in Tallahassee, Fla. Nov. 6, where they received an in-briefing from the Florida National Guard at the Tallahassee Base Camp. Their current mission is to assist with oversight of the Base Camp located in Marianna, Fla., in the heart of the destruction zone. Their assignment includes ensuring the safety and welfare of Base Camp and coordination of communication efforts.

ODF IMT (Smith) at Base Camp in Mariana, FL
reunited with Florida PIO who was
deployed to Oregon during the 2018 Fire Season.
ODF Agency Representative Dennis Lee mobilized with the team to oversee coordination of both of the ODF teams currently deployed in Florida. “The magnitude of destruction here is difficult to convey for those back at home,” Lee said. “Along with the devastation of so many homes and buildings, the sheer volume of what I would refer to as near-deforestation is somewhat unreal. Despite all of this, life goes on for everyone here and the resiliency of the local residents is truly inspiring. We are honored to be here to do our part in helping our Florida friends put the pieces back together.”

While ODF utilizes the EMAC most often during fire season, agency Incident Management Teams maintain All-Hazard qualifications to ensure capacity for potential disaster relief needs. ODF’s complete and coordinated fire suppression system relies on strong partnerships with other agencies, states and even countries, offering reciprocal assistance in times of need.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

New post-wildfire resource guide now available to help communities cope with flood and debris flow danger


SALEM, Ore. – Autumn rains may have ended Oregon’s wildfire season but not the risk of floods and debris flows following in their wake. That is why a working group of state and federal agencies have  released a new playbook. The playbook will aid local officials in finding resources to help prevent or cope with potentially catastrophic wildfire after-effects.
Above: After intense wildfires, burned soils may be less able
to absorb runoff, raising the risk of flooding or debris flows.
 
 

Wildfires burned more than 856,000 acres this year across all of Oregon, well above the 10-year average of approximately 500,000 acres, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Chief of Fire Protection Doug Grafe.
 

High intensity wildfires can destroy protective vegetation and alter soil so it is less able to absorb rainfall and snowmelt,” said Grafe. “After such fires, there can be an increased risk of flooding or debris flows.”
 
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, landslides (also known as debris flows) cause about $3.5 billion (in 2001 dollars) in damage in the U.S. each year, and claim between 25 to 50 lives. A prime example is the debris flow that hit Montecito in Southern California in January of this year. Just weeks after the Thomas Fire burned the hills above the town of about 9,000, a debris flow swept through, killing more than 20 people.

Ryan Cahill, hydraulic engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said his agency worked with several partners to compile and complete the guide, including:

·       Natural Resources Conservation Service

·       Oregon Department of Forestry

·       Oregon Emergency Management

·       Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development

·       U.S. Forest Service

·       U.S. Geological Survey

“Federal and state partners already work together to suppress wildfires, so it was natural for us to come together to prepare a guide for community leaders on what to do after wildfires,” said Cahill. “The playbook we produced explains what to do to reduce the risk from floods and debris flows, identifies the resources available to help do that, and where to find those resources,” said Cahill.

Among steps Cahill said at-risk communities can take, one is designating in advance where evacuation centers will be, including animal-friendly locations where pets and livestock can receive care. Alert systems, such as reverse 9-1-1 calls, should also be organized and periodically tested.
 

All government entities and critical emergency organizations, such as hospitals, utilities, food banks and schools, should know their roles in a community flood or debris flow emergency. Then be equipped and prepared to carry out those plans.
 

Although the playbook is intended for elected local officials and emergency managers, individuals can help protect themselves as well.
 

“Property owners and those living and working near rivers where catastrophic fires have occurred should be aware of their level of risk and take appropriate preparedness actions,” said Oregon Office of Emergency Management Director Andrew Phelps. “This includes having ‘two-weeks ready’ preparedness supplies handy, signing up for emergency notification systems where you live, and reviewing insurance coverage to make sure your home is protected for hazards like flooding and landslides.”  
 

The playbook can be accessed at:
 

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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 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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About Me

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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.