Current situation

With fire season ended, most burning in Oregon forestland in the late fall consists of controlled burns to eliminate piles of woody debris left over after logging or thinning. The timing of such burns is carefully regulated to minimize the chance of smoke entering heavily populated areas.

































Tuesday, December 12, 2017

First two Marion County communities earn Firewise USA status

Signs proclaiming Detroit and Idanha as new Firewise USA communities were unveiled Friday, Dec. 8 in both locations. Detroit and Idanha are the first two communities in Marion County whose efforts to reduce wildfire risk have earned them this national designation.

Detroit and Idanha join about 1,400 other communities nationwide who have taken the five necessary steps to earn Firewise USA status since the program started in 2002. About 124 Oregon communities have earned the designation. Most are in southern and central Oregon, with about half in Jackson and Deschutes counties.

The steps all communities seeking Firewise status in Oregon must take are:
  • Obtain a written wildfire risk assessment from the Oregon Department of Forestry or a local fire department.
  • Form a board or committee, and create an action plan based on the assessment.
  • Conduct a “Firewise Day” event.
  • Invest a minimum of $2 per capita in local Firewise actions for the year.
  • Create a Firewise Portal account and submit an application to your state Firewise liaison.  

  • For their Firewise Day event on May 6, both Detroit and Idanha held a free disposal day for vegetation residents removed from around their buildings. Keeping trees and shrubs at least 30 feet away from structures creates a defensible space and makes it harder for wildfire to catch a building on fire.

    The risk-reduction moves were timely as in July the Whitewater Fire started nearby in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness. That fire would eventually grow to over 14,400 acres, coming close enough to threaten both communities.

    Representatives from the Oregon Department of Forestry, U.S. Forest Service and the Idanha-Detroit Rural Fire Protection District as well as local dignitaries and volunteers will be on hand for the public unveiling of the Firewise USA signs.

    Monday, December 11, 2017

    ODF sends engines, personnel to battle Southern California fires

    SALEM, Ore. — Some 25 engines and over 60 firefighting personnel from Oregon Department of Forestry districts and forest protective associations are in Southern California helping battle the 230,500-acre Thomas Fire.
     
    The Oregon firefighters traveled from various points around the state to California on Friday and Saturday. All arrived over the weekend at the California Southern Region Prado Mobilization Center in Chino, about 35 miles east of Los Angeles.
     
    The ODF firefighters are assigned to the Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara County. As of this morning, Cal Fire was reporting that close to 6,400 firefighters and more than 850 fire engines were engaged in fighting the fire, which is threatening a number of communities. The blaze, fueled by strong winds, has already burned almost 40,000 more acres than this year's largest wildfire in Oregon (the 191,125-acre Chetco Bar Fire).
     
    The five ODF task forces, each made up of five engines, were requested by California fire officials through an interstate resource-sharing system known as ROSS (Resource Ordering and Status System). They are in addition to over 300 other Oregon fire service personnel sent to fight Southern California fires by the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office and fellow entities.
     
    “California and Oregon have a longstanding relationship with mutual reciprocation when suppression resources are needed,” said Oregon State Forester Peter Daugherty. “California was there for us during our challenging fire season this year and Oregon is fortunate to have the opportunity to return the favor.”

    Safety for the deployed firefighters is a priority for ODF leaders. Experienced team leaders are with each task force, several of whom have had additional training in firefighter safety. A seasoned agency representative and an agency representative trainee are with the strike teams to lend additional support.

    Severe fire weather is expected to continue, promoting significant fire growth in Santa Barbara County, where a number of communities are under mandatory evacuation orders. Cal Fire has reported that some 18,000 structures are threatened by the fire, with more than having been destroyed. For the latest information about the Thomas Fire, visit Cal Fire incident information page.

    This is the second deployment of ODF firefighters and engines to California this year. The deployment in October of five engines and personnel from the Southwest and Klamath-Lake districts was to help with devastating wildfires in Northern California.

    During the summer, California firefighting resources were among several out-of-state resources that answered requests to assist with the many fires that were burning across Oregon.
    # # #

    Monday, October 30, 2017

    Wind rekindles slash burn fires in north Cascade foothills

    MOLALLA, Ore. -- At least nine slash burns on private land in the north Cascade foothills reignited over the Oct. 28-29 weekend as windy conditions picked up, according to Oregon Department of Forestry officials in the North Cascade District. Seven of the fires are located in Clackamas County and one each in Marion and Linn counties. Smoke from the fires can be seen east of Molalla and areas south. Lyons is the community closest to the fires. The fires range in size from two to just over 100 acres.

    Landowners have been engaging the fires since early Monday morning. Since early Monday afternoon ODF has had an aerial observer in a fixed-wing aircraft helping pinpoint and report on the fires. Currently only one fire, in Marion County near Lyons, has crossed property lines. ODF is actively engaged with the landowners fighting that fire, with fire engines and personnel. ODF personnel and engines along with a hand crew from Coffee Creek Correctional Institute are also assisting on fires in Clackamas County. On some fires, ODF staff are advising and monitoring the landowner's suppression efforts and are ready to call in support when requested or if conditions threaten spread beyond the property owner's land.
     
     

    Friday, October 27, 2017

    Prescribed burns planned for Klamath and Lake counties this fall

    LAKEVIEW, Ore. – Fire managers within the South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership (SCOFMP) are utilizing the warm fall temperatures to continue with prescribed burning as weather and air conditions permit.

    Prescribed burns help decrease the threat of high-intensity, high-severity wildfires; reduce the risk of insect and disease outbreak; recycle nutrients that increase soil productivity; and improve wildlife habitat.

    The actual days of ignition for these burn projects will depend on several factors, including appropriate humidity levels, wind speed and direction, temperature, and fuel moisture. Burns only occur on days when the Oregon Smoke Management Office indicates suitable weather conditions exist for smoke dispersal.

    Area residents and visitors may notice smoke on public lands in various areas during the next few months as part of the continued commitment to protect communities and natural resources from extreme wildfires.
    FREMONT-WINEMA NATIONAL FOREST
    Bly Ranger District
    Approximately 500 acres of prescribed burning is planned for the West Spodue Project area, located 12 miles north of Beatty and just west of Spodue Mountain. An additional 300 acres are scheduled to be treated within the Long Project area, 15 miles east of the Bly, in the Coleman Rim area. Pile burning has been ongoing and will continue in various locations throughout the District. For more information, please contact Bly Ranger District Fire Management Officer Eric Knerr at 541-353-2741 or Bly Ranger District Assistant Fire Management Officer Leland Hunter at 541-353-2745.
    Chemult Ranger District
    Approximately 500 acres of prescribed burning is planned for the Chemult Town site Project area, located adjacent to the town of Chemult on Highway 97 and 400 acres in the Jack Unit area, located 13 miles east of Chemult, near Tea Table Mountain. 700 acres are scheduled to be treated within the Cub Unit area, 25 miles southwest of Chemult, near Lookout Butte south of Highway 138. Additional pile burning will continue throughout the winter, 40 miles east of Chemult. For more information, please contact Chemult Ranger District Assistant Fire Management Officer Ken Gregor at 541-365-7057 or Engine Captain Dave Varon at 559-202-7345.
    Chiloquin Ranger District
    Roughly 300 acres of prescribed burning is planned in the Ninemile Project area located about five miles east of Chiloquin, south of the Sprague River Road near Corbell Butte. An additional 75 acres will be treated on the Yoss House Project, located 15 miles northeast of Chiloquin in the Yoss Ridge area. Pile burning has been ongoing and will continue in various locations throughout the District. For additional information, please contact the Chiloquin Ranger District Assistant Fire Management Officer, Evan Wright at 541-783-4056 or District Fire Management Officer Mitch Wilson 514-783-4066.
    Klamath Ranger District

    Approximately 258 acres of prescribed burning is planned for the Raccoon Project Unit, located 30 miles northwest of Klamath Falls adjacent to Highway 140 in the Odessa area, near Rocky Point. Another method of reducing fuel is to burn piles of woody debris which is scheduled within the Klamath Ranger District. For more information, please contact Klamath Ranger District Assistant Fire Management Officer Philp Bordelon at 541-885-3413.
     
    Lakeview Ranger District
    Located six miles east of Lakeview, 750 acres of prescribed fire is planned in the Burnt Willow Project area, near Burnt Creek and 400 acres in the West Drews Project area, west of Drews Reservoir. Pile burning has been ongoing and will continue in various locations throughout the District. For additional information, please contact Lakeview Ranger District Assistant Fire Management Officer Coley Neider at 541-219-2126.
     
    Winter Rim Zone

    Nearly 800 acres of prescribed burning is planned in the Coyote Creek area, which is 25 miles southwest of Silver Lake and 500 acres of prescribed fire is planned for the Paisley Ranger District, located west of Forest Service Road 33 near Coffee Pot Flat, 14 miles southwest of Paisley. Pile burning has been ongoing and will continue in various locations throughout the District. For more information, please contact Silver Lake Ranger District Assistant Fire Management Officer Joel Johnson 541-219-0310 or Paisley Ranger District Assistant Fire Management Officer Sam Tacchini 541-219-2028. 
     
    LAKEVIEW DISTRICT BLM

    Lakeview Resource Area
     
    Prescribed burning of cut juniper, approximately 3,000 acres is planned within the South Warner Project area, located 16 miles east of Lakeview and five miles southwest of Adel. For additional information, please contact the Bureau of Land Management Fire Operations Supervisor Abel Harrington at 541-219-0103.

    Klamath Falls Resource Area

    A number of areas will be burning piles: Approximately 50 acres in the Gerber area is planned 12 miles southeast of Bonanza; 600 acres located four miles north of Malin; Bly Mountain, located eight miles north of Bonanza; and 40 piles located four miles northwest of Keno. For more information, contact Bureau of Land Management Fire Operations Supervisor Justin Pyle at 541-885-4177.  

    U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE

    Sheldon-Hart National Wildlife Refuge Complex (NWRC)

    Approximately 1,500 acres of cut juniper will be treated in the Poker Jim area of NWRC Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge. Most of the planned burning on Hart Mountain is approximately eight to 10 miles east of Plush. For more information, please contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Office at 541-947- 3315 or Bureau of Land Management Fire Operations Supervisor Abel Harrington at 541-219-0103.

    Prescribed burning notices will be placed at Fremont-Winema National Forest Offices and Lakeview Interagency Office prior to ignition and posted online. Fremont-Winema National Forest, BLM Lakeview District, and NWRC employees are committed to a safe and successful prescribed burning season for both the public and employees.

    The South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership is an interagency fire management program that provides comprehensive wildland fire service to south central Oregon and northwest Nevada. The partnership strives to achieve a more efficient, effective and integrated interagency fire management program for all participating agencies on the lands administered and protected by each agency.

    Participating agencies include: Fremont-Winema National Forest, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lakeview District, Sheldon-Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Crater Lake National Park and Klamath-Lake District Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF).

    Prescribed burn updates and maps are available online at:

     South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership blog: https://scofmp.blogspot.com/

     Lakeview Interagency Fire Center site: www.scofmp.org/rx_fire.shtml

     Inciweb: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5165

     Social Media: Twitter @scofmpfireinfo or Facebook http://facebook.com/scofmpfireinfo

    For more information, contact Fire Information Officer Sarah Saarloos with the South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership at 541-219-0515 or ssaarloos@fs.fed.us.



     



     





     






     


     
     


     
     





     




     


     

    Friday, October 20, 2017

    2017 fire season comes to a close

    Above: Firefighters head for home after suppressing the
    Naylox Fire in central Oregon. Fire season has now ended
     on all lands protected by ODF statewide.
    The Oregon Department of Forestry has officially ended fire season on all private and public lands it protects statewide, with the last district - Southwest Oregon - lifting fire restrictions at 9 a.m. today (Friday, Oct. 20).

    ODF and its fire protective association partners suppressed over a thousand fires this year that burned an estimated 42,000 acres. By comparison, the severe fire seasons from 2013-2015 accounted for an annual average of 81,467 acres burned.

    "This was a significant year for wildfire," said ODF Fire Protection Deputy Chief Ron Graham. "Thanks to aggressive and safe firefighting, we were able to keep the great majority of fires small in scale. I'm also pleased that we had no firefighter fatalities and injuries were below the expected average.


    "Our partners within Oregon's complete and coordinated fire protection system played key roles this year, from forest landowners to rural fire districts, the Oregon National Guard, Oregon State Fire Marshal and other state and federal partners, including those from out of state," Graham added. "We are grateful for all the collaboration and support we received in what turned out to be a very busy fire season."

    The number of wildfire starts this year was close to average, but the number of acres burned was significantly higher. Just one fire accounted for nearly half the total acres burned on lands protected by ODF and its forest protective association partners. Lightning started the Chetco Bar Fire in a wilderness area in Curry County. Over the summer it became Oregon's largest fire of the year, scorching 191,125 acres, including 20,000 acres of private and public land protected by the Coos Forest Protective Association.


    Lightning was unusually rare last year but returned with a vengeance in August, keeping firefighters in southern and eastern Oregon busy well into September. ODF statistics show that the majority of wildfires continue to be caused by humans. Human-caused fires are up 9 percent over last year, underscoring the importance of prevention, Graham said.

    "Fire prevention remains our top priority," he said. "Fires caused by humans, especially debris burning and abandoned campfires that have not been extinguished properly, continue to raise concern. We need the public's help to reduce these careless and costly fires." 


    Graham reminds Oregonians that fire season does not mean the end of fire prevention. "I urge everyone to continue to practice vigilance with any potential source of fire all year long," he said. "
    When burning yard debris, do so during daylight hours under calm conditions. Scrape a fire trail down to mineral soil completely around burn piles. Keep piles small and manageable, feeding the fire periodically from larger piles. Monitor the burn carefully and keep a shovel and charged garden hose at the ready."

    Just like a campfire, never leave the burn pile unattended and put the fire completely out before leaving.
    Burn piles, especially tightly compacted piles, can hold heat and smolder for many weeks, rekindling when the temperature goes up and the wind blows. That's why they should be revisited periodically over several weeks to make sure the fire has not rekindled. Residents should contact their local fire department before conducting any burning as restrictions vary among local fire districts.

    Fire season is declared and terminated on a district-by-district basis based on fire danger conditions. Below is a list of ODF fire protection districts and their fire season start and end dates:

    - South Cascade District, June 26 to Oct. 11
    - Western Lane District, June 26 to Oct. 11
    - North Cascade District, July 5 to Oct. 11
    - West Oregon District, July 3 to Oct. 11
    - Northwest Oregon District, July 10 to Oct.11

    - Coos Forest Protective Association, June 26 to Oct. 13
    - Walker Range Fire Patrol Association, June 2 to Oct. 13
    - Douglas Forest Protective Association, June 19 to Oct. 12
     - Northeast Oregon District, June 26 to Oct. 12

    - Central Oregon District, June 7 to Oct. 16
    - Klamath-Lake District, June 5 to Oct. 19
    - Southwest Oregon District, June  4 to Oct. 20

    # # #
     

    Tuesday, October 10, 2017

    Northeast Oregon firefighters catch Hay Creek Fire at 74 acres

    Firefighters from ODF's Northeast Oregon District were able to catch at 74 acres a fire burning in grass and timber over the weekend about three miles northwest of Weston Station. 

    The Hay Creek Fire started just after 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 6. ODF responded with four engines - two from the Pendleton unit, one from the Wallowa unit and one from La Grande. The landowner also responded as did East Umatilla Rural Fire Department, Tribal Fire, Pendleton Fire, Milton-Freewater Fire, U.S. Forest Service and Oregon Department of Transportation. Oregon State Police had to temporarily close Highway 204 because of the fire. The fire was contained later that evening. The cause is under investigation.

    ODF reciprocates for help from California this summer by sending four engines to Northern California fires

     

    In making the case for the U.S. to lend supplies to nations fighting the Nazis in Europe in 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt likened it to a good neighbor who "lends a garden hose to the neighbor so he can put out his house fire." Similarly, when states find their firefighting resources stretched thin by big wildfires, they call on other states to send whatever resources they can spare. Yesterday, ODF's Southwest and Klamath-Lake districts bordering California sent four engines and their two-person crews to help Northern California. Two of the engines came from Grants Pass, one from Klamath Falls and one from Medford. A ninth ODF employee also went from Medford as overhead.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
    Because of more than a dozen wind-driven wildfires, California's governor has declared a fire emergency in three counties - Napa, Sonoma and Yuba. These fast-moving fires have caused fatalities, burned down homes and businesses, caused hurried evacuations and fully engaged local and state firefighting resources. The ODF teams will be put to use where the Northern California incident command deems they are needed most.   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
    This reciprocal aid is an important way the nation's is able to ensure individual states or regions are not overwhelmed during peak fire events. For example, in 2016 after an unusually calm fire season in the Northwest, ODF sent personnel to help fight forest fires in the Southeast, where a long drought led to severe wildfires. Those fires pummeled North Carolina and northern Georgia in October and November. This year, North Carolina returned the favor, being one of about a dozen or more states that sent resources to Oregon during our busy summer wildfire season.                                                   
     
    Another state that helped this summer was California, which sent teams north into ODF's Southwest Oregon District during what District Forester Dave Larson calls "The Siege of 2017." Over eight weeks in August and September, district firefighters battled some 317 wildfires. At the peak, during a single week in August, ODF responded to 154 wildfires in Josephine and Jackson counties - an average of 22 a day. Cal-Fire, the state agency responsible for fighting wildfires on state-protected lands, sent crews that helped with initial attack.                                                                                           
     
    In addition to California resources, private landowners also stepped up. Larson cited Handcock, Murphy Timber, and Weyerhaeuser as three which supplied equipment to supplement ODF forces on initial attack. The Oregon Department of Transportation also lent equipment and other support, including water tenders, masticators and lowboys to move equipment. At the local level, the Rogue Valley Fire Chiefs Association organized three strike teams totaling 15 engines and three support vehicles, drawn from these entities:
     
    Jackson County Fire District #3
    Jackson County Fire District #4
    Jackson County Fire District #5
    Jacksonville Fire Department
    Medford Fire Rescue
    Rogue Valley International Airport Fire
    Rogue River Fire District
     
    One result of this mutual aid was the Southwest Oregon District was able to contain 97 percent of all wildfires on ODF-protected land to less than 10 acres, and total acres burned to under a thousand. Similar stories could be told from ODF's other districts. Those experiencing fewer wildfires were able to temporarily loan equipment and crews where the need was greatest. For example, over the course of this fire season the Tillamook District was able to spare equipment and about two dozen staff to help out in parts of the state experiencing high wildfire volumes. In total they spent the equivalent of 458 days fighting fires, including helping protect private lands threatened by the Whitewater Fire in the northern Cascades. Such loans keep staff productively engaged, adding to their experience and honing their skills for use back on their home district.

    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 snowpack at higher elevations which will take some time to melt. However, in the summer of 2017 a series of heatwaves and a prolonged stretch of dry weather created conditions that dried forest fuels, allowing fires to start and spread. The result was more than a thousand fires on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry.Ninety-five percent of these 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.





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    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.