Firefighting costs

The Oregon Dept. of Forestry's gross large-fire costs in the 2014 fire season were about $75.6 million, and the net costs about $47.6 million.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lack of snowpack could mean early Central Oregon fire season


 

By Dylan J. Darling The Bulletin Mar 20, 2015

A warm winter with light snowfall in the mountains near Bend means wildfire season could come early.

Timber fires do not typically occur in Central Oregon until August, said Ed Keith, Deschutes County forester, but the lack of snow may lead to big blazes earlier. “This year it may be June or July,” he said Wednesday.

Last winter was similar, although with more snow, and a late spring wildfire brought a scare to Bend before Central Oregon’s usual summer fire season. The 6,908-acre Two Bulls Fire started June 7 and prompted the evacuation of nearly 200 homes in and near west Bend. The human-caused blaze, the exact cause of which remains under investigation by the Oregon Department of Forestry, burned mainly through private timberland near Tumalo Reservoir. While fire season last year was busy around the Northwest, few fires affected Bend after the Two Bulls Fire.

Whether fire season comes early this year this year depends on weather this spring, which starts today. Spring begins with a dismal snowpack in Central Oregon.

 The Deschutes/Crooked River Basin snowpack was only 9 percent of normal for this time of year as of Wednesday, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Many of the automated snow sites monitored by the federal agency report no snow for the first time in three decades of recording data. A year ago the basin had 54 percent of the normal snowpack on March 20.

Rain fell in Bend last week, and the National Weather Service forecast calls for springlike weather, with rain expected to fall in Bend tonight and rain and snow possible early next week.

“We are gaining some precipitation now, which will help,” said Rachel Cobb, a Weather Service meteorologist in Pendleton, “but I don’t know if it will be enough to make up for what we didn’t get over the winter.”

Starting next week, Cobb plans to start compiling daily fire weather forecasts Monday through Friday, detailing temperatures, relative humidity and wind patterns — weather factors used by firefighters to determine potential fire behavior.

For now, firefighters chiefly use the forecasts to plan controlled burns, which have already begun in Central Oregon, but later they use them for wildfires. During wildfire season the weather service produces fire weather forecasts seven days a week.

The Oregon Department of Forestry does not have any immediate plans to start staffing for fire season or issue fire restrictions early, but that could change with the weather, said George Ponte, Central Oregon District forester for the Oregon Department of Forestry in Prineville.

The lack of snowfall has left grasses in forests around Central Oregon ready to burn, he said. Snow typically crunches down grasses, lowering the likelihood of the grasses holding a flame once the snow has melted. Without snow, the grasses are taller and warm weather could dry them out.

“Those could go at any time with a spark or a careless match,” Ponte said, noting that most early season wildfires in Central Oregon are caused by people.

 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Inmate fire crews make their mark in 2014

Each year the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) team up to select and train inmates to dispatch to wildfires. Inmates are selected to serve on supervised 10-person crews, and have to complete the same nationally certified firefighter training course as their civilian counterparts. They learn the fundamentals of wildfire behavior, firefighting techniques, communication, and safety.

Deployment of DOC fire crews this year began in January and continued through October. During this time, DOC deployed an astonishing 242 staff members and 2,701 inmates to battle 66 fires. These crews were on the fire line from one to 17 days at a time, depending on the severity of the fire. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Fire season segues to accounting season

The rains have set in, and the summer wildfire season is rapidly fading into memory. For the Oregon Department of Forestry, though, the current period might be called the “accounting season.”

Paying the bills, collecting reimbursements and handling other financial tasks will take months. 2014 was a severe fire season. The state’s firefighting expenditures ran to more than $75 million. After reimbursements, the net cost is expected to be about $47 million.

Cost of the epic 2013 fire season was even higher. The department spent $122 million that year to put out fires. The net cost calculated to around $75 million.

In both years, hot, dry conditions and abundant lightning produced hundreds of fires across the Oregon landscape.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Hug Point Fire - final update Nov. 14, 2014

The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) will continue to visually inspect mop-up activities
until all final suppression objectives are met and completed on the Hug Point Fire in the Astoria District. 


ODF extends its gratitude to the local fire departments for their assistance with fire suppression efforts and protecting the local neighborhoods. 

Astoria District Forester Dan Goody appreciates the community’s patience as ODF works with forest landowners to improve procedures to prevent similar occurrences from happening in the future. 

At this time no evacuations are in place.

There were no injuries incurred on this incident. 

FIRE AT A GLANCE
Size: 100 acres
Cause: under investigation
Location:  Hug Point area, east of Highway 101 between mileposts 34-35.
Evacuations:  NONE
Containment:  75%
Expected Containment: Unknown
Crews and Equipment:  
Dozers/Excavators:  2 (on standby)
Crews:  3
Helicopters: 0
Engines:  3
Water tenders: 1

Total personnel:  33
Road closures: none

For additional information, please contact:
Ashley Lertora, 503-338-8442
, Ashley.M.Lertora@oregon.gov

 
###

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hug Point Complex update - Nov. 13, 2014

Oregon Dept. of Forestry- Astoria District
Neal Bond, Incident Commander


Crews continued to work hard through the night on keeping the fire from spreading. Although the east winds were strong through most of the night, rain started falling on the fire early this morning aiding firefighters’ efforts.  Night Operations Chief Dave Horning said “that within an hour, the rain knocked the flames down and now the firefighters are focused on digging around the stumps and piles to extinguish remaining hot spots.”  

Firefighters intend to take advantage of the rain while it lasts. The change in weather is predicted to only last a short time before the dry, cold, east wind weather pattern returns this weekend.
 Residents and motorists may experience smoky conditions in the Hug Point State Park (Hwy 101 MP 34 area) area.   

Fire at a Glance (11/13/14)

Size: 100 acres
Cause:  under investigation
Location:  Hug Point area, east of Hwy 101 between MP 34-35.
Evacuations:  NONE
Containment:  25%
Expected Containment: 
    Unknown

Crews and Equipment:  
Dozers/Excavators:  2
Crews:  5
Helicopters: 0
Engines:  3
Water Tenders: 2
Fallers: 2                

Total personnel:  68 
Closures: none

Contact:
For additional information, please contact:
Ashley Lertora, PIO at 503-338-8442 or
Ashley.M.Lertora@oregon.gov

Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oregondepartmentofforestry

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hug Point Complex update Nov. 12, 2014

Early Tuesday afternoon a fire was reported east of Highway 101 between Cannon Beach and Arch Cape, Oregon, on lands owned by Stimson Lumber Company. Overnight extreme east winds in excess of 40 mph with gusts over 70 mph continued to fan the fire consuming slash piles in four post-harvest units.

Stimson Lumber Company and Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) personnel were on scene monitoring fire activity throughout the night. Today more firefighting resources will arrive from ODF Tillamook and Forest Grove district offices.
 
The focus for today will be to minimize fire growth by holding the fire inside the unit boundaries and start fire suppression and mop-up efforts.
 
Incident Commander Neal Bond said, ”Once the east winds die down this afternoon, we should be able to make quick progress in mop-up.”
 
At this time no evacuations are in place.
 
Residents and motorists can expect smoky conditions in the Arcadia Beach State Park (Hwy 101 MP 33 area) today as east winds persist.
 

Fire at a Glance (11/12/14)
Size:   unknown
Cause:  under investigation
Location:  Hug Point area, east of Hwy 101 between MP 34-35.
Evacuations:  NONE
Containment:  0%
Expected Containment: 
    Unknown


Crews and Equipment:   Dozers/Excavator:  3
Crews:  5
Helicopters: 0
Engines:  5
Tenders: 2
                 

Total personnel:  70 
Closures: none

Contact:
For additional information, please contact:
Ashley Lertora, PIO at 503-338-8442 or
Ashley.M.Lertora@oregon.gov
 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fire season ends in NE Oregon - all ODF districts are out

[With the announcement today that the Northeast Oregon District has ended fire season, the entire state is now officially out. It was an active season. On the 16 million acres protected by ODF, 1,117 fires burned 51,198 acres. Compared to the 10-year average, that is 174 more fires and more than double the acreage burned.]  

News Release from the Oregon Dept. of Forestry, Oct. 23, 2014:

As of 12:01 p.m. on October 23, 2014, fire season was officially terminated for forestlands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), Northeast Oregon District. This includes private, state, county, municipal and tribal lands in seven counties: Union, Baker, Wallowa, Umatilla and small portions of Grant, Malheur and Morrow. Scattered rain showers throughout the district over the past few weeks, combined with cooler fall temperatures has reduced the fire danger.

However, John Buckman, Northeast Oregon District Forester, reminds the public to implement safe practices when using fire in the fall months.

"Fall is a good time to burn forest slash or yard debris, but please recognize that just one sunny and windy day can change conditions very quickly," he said. "Each fall we respond to escaped fires, so please continue to use fire in a responsible manner."

Technical advice for burning and smoke management can be obtained from your local ODF office.

With the termination of fire season, requirements such as providing firefighting equipment at logging sites or obtaining a burning permit for burn barrels are no longer in effect. However, termination of fire season does not relieve landowners or forest operators of lawful responsibilities concerning the safe burning of debris or slash. Windy conditions combined with warm weather could cause unpredictable fire behavior.

Specific Smoke Management/Burning Advisory Information:

- Unless you are in a rural or city fire department protection area, burn permits for burn barrels and small amounts of yard debris are not required. If you are under the protection of a rural or city fire department, please call and ask what their burning restrictions are. Burning within the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation requires a permit from the CTUIR. Follow all requirements within the permit.

- Burning of slash from forestry and logging activities requires a Notification of Operation/PDM from the Oregon Department of Forestry. In addition to this permit, the local Oregon Department of Forestry office must be contacted prior to ignition.

Before burning in northeast Oregon, it is important to check weather conditions related to smoke management. For smoke management forecasts call (541)963-9781 or visit the following website:
www.odf.state.or.us/DIVISIONS/protection/fire_protection/Daily/neo.htm.

- Slash Burns must be registered with the local Oregon Department of Forestry office at least seven days prior to burning and burning accomplishments reported within seven days after burning.

The Northeast Oregon District of the Oregon Department of Forestry would like to thank forest landowners, forest operators and the public for their efforts in fire prevention, detection and suppression activities this season. After back-to-back record fire seasons for the State of Oregon, the Northeast Oregon District was again able to keep acres burned below the 10-year average of 2,207 acres.

Firefighters in the district suppressed 105 fires, which burned just 1,038 acres. Additional resources such as helicopters, bulldozers and single-engine air tankers partially paid for with General Fund monies from the State of Oregon helped significantly to check fire spread quickly in a year in which there were numerous large fires burning throughout the state.

These additional resources were part of the coordinated effort employed by ODF, which also included rural fire departments, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Bureau of Indian Affairs, local contractors, landowners and a long-standing relationship with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

For further information, contact the Oregon Department of Forestry at these local offices:

La Grande Unit (541) 963-3168
Baker City Sub-Unit (541) 523-5831
Wallowa Unit (541) 886-2881
Pendleton Unit (541) 276-3491

To report a fire, call 9-1-1.

Northeast Oregon District Wildfire Blog:
http://neodistrictfireblog.blogspot.com/
ODF on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/ORDeptForestry

Contact Info:
Christie Shaw, (541)886-2881, (541)263-0661
Jamie Knight, (541) 963-0195, (541)786-0501

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

Extremely dry conditions exist across most forestlands in Oregon currently. Large wildfires to date this season have been both lightning- and human-caused.

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. There are about 30.4 million total 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. Suppression of large fires can run into millions of dollars.

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About Me

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Oregon Dept. of Forestry's public information officers maintain this blog. During the wildfire season, we spend much of our time reporting on fires and firefighting to news media and the public.