Current situation

Fires in the Garner Complex in Josephine County have burned close to a 1,000 acres since Sunday. ODF Incident Management Team 2 has taken command of the Complex to allow the Southwest Oregon District to focus on dozens of other lightning-sparked wildfires. While temperatures in many parts of Oregon won't be quite as hot today, conditions are drier than normal for this time of year. The U.S. Drought Monitor reports that 99% of Oregonians live in areas that are abnormally dry or in moderate drought, with southeast Oregon already in severe drought.

Many ODF districts and forest protective associations have raised their fire danger level and tightened restrictions on activities linked to fire starts. Check ODF's fire restrictions and closures web page for the latest details at http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx





Tuesday, July 17, 2018

ODF sends Incident Management Team 2 to help with lightning fires in Southwest Oregon District

ODF's Incident Management Team 2 was dispatched overnight to take command of a series of fires in Josephine County at the request of the Southwest Oregon District. The district is dealing with 68 reported wildfires that have occurred since a lightning storm passed through the area Sunday.

The Team will be operating out of an incident command post in the community of Merlin, north of Grants Pass. Led by Incident Commander Chris Cline, the team is responsible for fires within the Garner Complex, including:

Grave Creek Fires
Four fires are in this group. The fires are about 17 miles north of the town of Rogue River in the vicinity of Upper Grave Creek Road several miles east of Wolf Creek and visible from the community of Wimer. No structures are threatened. The total area of the fires is estimated at 115 acres. The fire with the most potential to spread today is Grave Creek Fire No. 3. Getting control of this fire is the top priority for firefighters. Aerial and ground resources are continuing to aggressively attack these fires as they work lengthen current control lines along the flanks. Winds along ridgelines will test those control lines today.

Pleasant Creek Fire
Located 15 miles north of Rogue River, this fire is estimated at 60 acres. Ground resources are working to build lines around the fire today while aircraft work to cool off the leading edge of the fire to stop further spread. No structures are threatened.

Spencer Creek Fires
This is a group of about three fires approximately 12 miles south of Grants Pass. The fires are highly visible from I-5 and Grants Pass, Applegate, Williams and the Illinois Valley. The combined size of the fires is estimated at 105 acres. Two of the fires were lined overnight. However, Spencer Creek Fire No. 3 is pushing firefighters to their limits. No structures are threatened.

The Southwest Oregon District is working to knock down and contain other fires in the area, including fires in the Wagner Creek Complex in Jackson County. Among these fires are:

Green Top Mountain
This fire 5 miles northeast of Eagle Point is holding at 125 acres. Firefighters completed control lines around the perimeter of the fire Monday night. Containment now stands at 45 percent. Ground-based firefighters and aircraft will continue to knock down interior heat today.

Sterling Creek
Located 7 miles south of Jacksonville, this fire is estimated at about 100 acres. The fire is 30 percent contained. Ground forces and aircraft will continue knocking down flames inside the perimeter of the fire today.

Trail Creek and Elk Creek Drainage
Multiple fires are burning in the area surrounding Cleveland Ridge, Elk Creek and the Trail Creek area, which is roughly 5.5 miles north to northwest of Shady Cove. There are about 10 confirmed fires on ODF-protected land within the drainage, the largest of which is estimated at 20 acres. Several fires within the drainage were lined on Monday, including an 18-acre fire. Several of the fires are one acre or less in size. Overall the fires are 50 percent contained. Crews will continue to attack any remaining active fires today. No structures are threatened.

 

Silver Creek Fire now 100 percent lined with no new growth expected


Above: Smoke rises from the Silver Creek Fire. The heavily
forested location away from roads and trails has made
firefighters job more difficult. Despite that, firefighters
were able to completely encircle the fire.
SILVER FALLS STATE PARK, Ore. - Firefighters continue making good progress on the Silver Creek Fire, with about 125 remaining to mop up over the next several days..

The fire, which is in a remote southeast part of Silver Falls State Park, is mapped at 27 acres. No further growth is expected. Firefighters have succeeded in building control lines completely around the fire, which is now 55 percent contained.

Investigators have officially determined the cause of the Silver Creek Fire was lightning, most likely from a storm that passed over the area on June 18. Known as a lightning holdover, the fire smoldered for several weeks before emerging during a windy period with high temperatures, low relative humidity and drier fuels on the ground.

While Howard Creek horse camp, the 214 Trailhead and several back-country trails remain closed, the Ranches have reopened and there are no interruptions to scheduled events. Waterfall areas remain accessible to visitors during normal park hours. Visitors may notice light smoke at times, but the fire is not anticipated to produce heavy smoke.

For the next several days crews will continue mopping up around the fire perimeter. This involves working from the fire's edge into the fire's interior, ensuring all heat has been extinguished. Mop-up is especially challenging on this fire because of thick brush, a heavy layer of duff and dangerous snags. Firefighters have been carefully removing large snags around the fire's perimeter. Night crews have used infrared cameras to help identify hot spots. Fire managers anticipate maintaining current staffing levels for the next several days to continue this work and secure the fire area. No injuries or fatalities have been reported over the course of the fire.

Photos and videos from July 14-15 remain available online at
https://drive.google.com/open?id=19RlLpHp3XPlNq0d-H8ZBz7SqEvDUG3Yy.
ODF recently received the following note of thanks from people whose home was threatened by the Memaloose Fire.

NOTE: The Memaloose Fire broke out July 6, 2018 near the rest stop about 10 miles east of Hood River in the Central Oregon District's The Dalles unit. ODF firefighters and agencies throughout the Columbia River Gorge responded to the fire. The fast-moving blaze eventually grew to 74 acres and prompted evacuation orders of nearby residents before being stopped by ground and aerial forces.

Please share the following letter of thanks with any and all people who assisted with the Memaloose Fire.  Our home was the one closest to being lost, but was saved by the hard work of all involved.  This letter has been sent to both The Dalles and Hood River papers for publication.  **We got to meet some of the ODF crew, who were just outstanding people!  Thanks!

Anyone who has had their property saved from fire must feel as we do---that there are no words strong enough to express our gratitude, our thanks, and our overwhelming sense of relief.  When told to evacuate, one feels completely helpless …the world is coming to an end.   And when things turn out well, again one feels amazement.  The firefighters have performed a miracle.   Saving Oregon… field, forest, homes, people, businesses cannot be over estimated.

The firefighters who defeated the recent Memaloose Fire (July 6-14) deserve praise not just from residents in the area,  but from everyone.  Controlling wind and flame seems an impossible task.  Success results from unrelenting effort, physical endurance, and complete dedication.  It comes from working on the ground all night and all day, from cooperation with planes dropping retardant, and helicopters  taking up water from the river and dropping it where most needed.   And the vigil and perseverance of the fighters on the ground, the working, the checking, the watching… this persistence continues for many days even after people return to homes. 

Firefighters work for results, for satisfaction, not for praise. But we hope they know the debt we owe them, how much we value them, and that we laud them, extol them every day of our lives.   
 
Thanks to the many agencies who responded, the pilots and crew of planes and helicopters, the men and women firefighters on the ground and all the support staff.   The land is now charred, but our homes were saved and we will watch the land turn brilliant green again in spring.

Nancy Matthisen

Colin and Jean Zylka

Besides ODF, responders to the Memaloose Fire included Wasco County Sheriff, Hood River County Sheriff, Hood River County's Immediate Needs Task Force, Klickitat County (Washington) Rural Fire Department Engine Strike Team, fire departments from Wasco and Sherman counties, Mosier Fire Department, Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon State Police, Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon Travel Experience, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, U.S. Forest Service, and Washington Department of Natural Resources.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Firefighters are working in high heat to put out dozens of lightning fires in So. Oregon

MEDFORD, Ore. - Firefighters across Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath and Lake counties are battling dozens of wildfires in the wake of Sunday's lightning storm across southern and south-central Oregon.

The outbreak has pushed the cumulative number of fires on lands protected by ODF to 429 so far this year, well above the 10-year average of 321. Total acres burned - an estimated 5,000 acres - are still in line with the 10-year average of 5,155 acres.

ODF's Southwest Oregon District reported approximately 1,000 lightning strikes during the storm. About 55 new fires have been reported in that district, with planes continuing to scout for the tell-tale smoke of new ignitions.

The district has grouped the fires into two complexes:

Garner Complex in Josephine County

Spencer Creek # 3: Highly visible from Grants Pass and the Illinois Valley, this fire is 12 miles south of Grants Pass. Estimated at 10 acres, no structures are threatened by the fire which is being fought by both ground and aerial resources.
 
Swamp Creek: 16 miles north of the town of Rogue River. Estimated at 3 acres. Ground and aerial resources engaged. No structures are threatened.
 
Little Grayback: 8 miles east of Cave Junction. Estimated at 2 acres. Several ground resources engaged, securing the perimeter. Smoke will be present. No structures are threatened.

Wagner Creek Complex in Jackson County

Wagner Creek Area: ODF is not engaged with this wildfire because it is on U.S. Forest Service land in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. The fire is highly visible from I-5.

Green Top Mountain: 5 miles northeast of Eagle Point, this fire is estimated at 125 acres. This morning roughly 90% of the perimeter control line was complete and the fire was 5% contained.

Sterling Creek: Estimated at 100 acres, this fire is 7 miles south of Jacksonville but no structures are threatened. About 55% of the perimeter control line is complete and the fire is 5% contained. There was a roughly 4-acre spot fire this morning that has already been knocked down. Ground and aerial resources are engaged.

Trail Creek and Elk Creek drainages: Multiple fires are burning in the area surrounding Cleveland Ridge, Elk Creek and the Trail Creek area, which is roughly 5.5 miles north to northwest of Shady Cove. The largest fire in the area is estimated at 10 acres. Ground and aerial resources are engaged . No structures are threatened.

Douglas County Fires
The Douglas Forest Protective Association responded to five fires reported on Sunday in Douglas County. All but one were kept to less than an acre. The fifth - the Canyon Creek Fire four miles south of Canyonville - has proved more difficult to contain because of steep terrain and heavy fuels. About 30 firefighters a dozer and two helicopters worked on Sunday to install hose lays around the fire, and cool the perimeter, with work continuing Monday.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Firefighters make good progress Sunday on the Silver Creek Fire

SILVER FALLS STATE PARK, Ore. - Oregon Department of Forestry firefighters assisted by local cooperators and a Type 1 helicopter made good progress on the Silver Creek Fire on Sunday despite temperatures that reached into the 90s. Firefighters have built trails around 75 percent of the fire. The fire is burning in dense forest in a remote part of Silver Falls State Park. Containment is now at 35 percent. About 125 personnel are engaged on the fire. There have been no reported injuries.

Silver Creek Fire is now estimated at 27 acres and 25 percent contained

SILVER FALLS STATE PARK, Ore. - The Silver Creek Fire in Marion County is currently estimated at 27 acres and 25 percent contained. A good portion of the change in acreage over the last day is due to improved mapping and information from firefighters on the ground rather than fire growth.

The fire, which was first reported burning inside Silver Falls State Park July 12, is in the Howard Creek drainage. This is a remote, steep, timbered area over a mile from the park's boundary. Initial acreage estimates were hampered by the dense canopy, extensive understory, and limited visibility due to smoke.

The area is especially challenging for firefighters due to steep slopes and the nature of a mature forest; thick undergrowth slows progress and snags pose a falling hazard. Firefighter and public safety remains priority for all involved. No injuries or facility damage have been reported.

The number of personnel engaged has risen to approximately 125.

Current aerial support includes two Type 2 helicopters and a Type 1 helicopter. Heavy airtankers and single-engine airtankers (SEATs) are on standby if needed.
Park facilities remain unchanged from earlier reports:
  • the 214 Trailhead and several back-country trails, Howard Creek horse camp and Howard Creek day-use area, youth camp (Camp Silver Creek), and the Ranches are all closed. Howard Creek and the Ranches are closed to serve as incident command posts.
  • All other areas of the park are currently operating normally, with no interruptions to scheduled events. Visitors are enjoying the Historic Silver Falls Day event (https://silverfallsstatepark.wordpress.com/category/historic-silver-falls-days/),
  •  The Silver Falls Lodge and Conference Center (http://silverfallslodge.com/) continues to serve customers, including a wedding reception.
Conditions can change quickly; watch for updates on https://bit.ly/2meFGMP.
Photos and videos taken at the fire Saturday, July 14 are online at https://drive.google.com/open?id=19RlLpHp3XPlNq0d-H8ZBz7SqEvDUG3Yy
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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Firefighters achieve 10% containment on the Silver Creek Fire


Above: Firefighters had to make their way through
dense forest Saturday to reach the Silver Creek Fire in a remote part of  
Silver Falls State Park, then endure high heat. The fire size tonight
is reported at around 12 to 15 acres.
 
SILVER FALLS STATE PARK, Ore. - Containment on the Silver Creek Fire inside Silver Falls State Park is reported at 10% tonight. Firefighters successfully forged trails through thick forest today to reach the fire, which is located in the Howard Creek drainage, a remote, steep area over a mile from the park boundary. Coordinated ground and air attacks made headway on the fire, which is currently estimated at 12 to 15 acres.
 
About 110 personnel from Oregon Department of Forestry and partner organizations are involved, with most engaged in firefighting on the ground. Aerial attack involves heavy airtankers, single-engine airtankers (SEATs), helicopter and aviation ground support.
 
Despite the difficult terrain and high heat Saturday, no injuries have been reported. No structures have been damaged. Park facilities remain unchanged from earlier reports:
  • The 214 Trailhead and several back-country trails, Howard Creek horse camp and day-use area, the youth camp (Camp Silver Creek) and the Ranches are all closed. Howard Creek and the Ranches are closed to serve as command posts.
  • Other areas of the park are currently operating normally, with no interruptions to scheduled events.
 Conditions can change quickly. Watch for updates on https://bit.ly/2meFGMP

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

National weather forecasters are predicting the summer of 2018 will see above average temperatures and below average rainfall. Drought has already been declared in a number of counties in eastern and southern Oregon, with northwest Oregon also unusually dry for June. 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.