Monday, September 18, 2017

Rain Decreases both Public and Industrial Fire Restrictions

The recent rain and cooler temperatures have made it possible to decrease fire restrictions across southwest Oregon. Effective immediately, the fire danger level on Oregon Department of Forestry protected lands in Jackson and Josephine counties will lower to “moderate” (blue). In addition, fire prevention measures for logging, non-logging industrial operations, and all other commercial operations will lessen. Industrial Fire Precaution Level II (two) takes effect today.

These regulations affect 1.8 million acres of state, private, county, city and Bureau of Land Management lands protected by ODF’s Southwest Oregon District.

As a reminder, public fire restrictions which will remain in effect, include:

·         No debris burning, including piles and debris burned in burn barrels.
·         No fireworks on forestlands.
·         Exploding targets and tracer ammunition, or any bullet with a pyrotechnic charge in its base, are prohibited.
·         Campfires are allowed only in designated campgrounds. Portable stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels may be used in other locations.
·         Motorized vehicles are allowed only on improved roads; one shovel and one gallon of water, or one 2.5 pound or larger fire extinguisher, is required while traveling.
·         Smoking while traveling will only be allowed in enclosed vehicles on improved roads, in boats on the water and other specifically designated locations.
·         Chain saws may not be used between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. during moderate fire danger. During hours outside of this time frame, chain saws may be used but require that the operator have one shovel and one 8-oz or larger fire extinguisher at the work site. A fire watch is also required for one hour after each chainsaw use.
·         Cutting, grinding, and welding of metal is not allowed between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. during moderate fire danger. These activities will be allowed during hours outside of this time frame only if the work site is cleared of potentially flammable vegetation and other materials, and a water supply is at the job site.
·         The mowing of dead or dried grass with power-driven equipment is not allowed between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. during moderate fire danger. This restriction does not include mowing of green lawns, or equipment used for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.
·         Any other spark-emitting internal combustion engine-use not specifically mentioned is not allowed between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. during moderate fire danger. Use of any spark-emitting internal combustion engine is allowed outside of this time frame only if the work site is cleared of potentially flammable vegetation and other materials, and a water supply is at the job site.
·         Any electric fence controllers must be approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories Inc., or be certified by the Department of Consumer and Business Services, and be installed and used in compliance with the fence controller’s instructions for fire safe operation.
Under IFPL II (Two) – limited shutdown, which is entirely separate from all public fire restrictions, the following may operate after 8 p.m. and up until 1 p.m. daily:

·         Power saws, except at loading sites.
·         Feller-bunchers with rotary head saws.
·         Cable yarding.
·         Blasting.
·         Welding, cutting, or grinding of metal.
For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s fire season public restrictions, please call or visit the Southwest Oregon District unit office nearest to you:

Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd., Central Point. (541) 664-3328
Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Dr., Grants Pass. (541) 474-3152

Fire season information is also available online at our Facebook page: @ODFSouthwest and our website: www.swofire.com.

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Fire Danger Level Drops to High Tomorrow

A combination of higher relative humidities and cooler temperatures across southwest Oregon have made it possible to ease-off on some fire prevention regulations. The fire danger level on Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands in Jackson and Josephine counties will be lowered to “high” (yellow) tomorrow, September 15, 2017 at 12:01 a.m. The Industrial Fire Precaution Level will remain at a level 3 (three).
These regulations affect 1.8 million acres of state, private, county, city and Bureau of Land Management lands protected by ODF’s Southwest Oregon District.
Restrictions on the public use of chain saws, brush cutters and other power-driven or spark-emitting machinery are being slightly relaxed, allowing the use of equipment until 10:00 a.m. and after 8 p.m. Today will be the last day power-driven and/or spark-emitting machinery is completely prohibited.
Other fire prevention regulations which will remain in effect, include:
·         No debris burning, including piles and debris burned in burn barrels.
·         No fireworks on forestlands.
·         Exploding targets and tracer ammunition, or any bullet with a pyrotechnic charge in its base, are prohibited.
·         Campfires are allowed only in designated campgrounds. Portable stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels may be used in other locations.
·         Motorized vehicles are allowed only on improved roads; one shovel and one gallon of water, or one 2.5 pound or larger fire extinguisher, is required while traveling.
·         Smoking while traveling will only be allowed in enclosed vehicles on improved roads, in boats on the water and other specifically designated locations.
·         Chain saws may not be used between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. during high fire danger. During hours outside of this time frame, chain saws may be used but require that the operator have one shovel and one 8-oz or larger fire extinguisher at the work site. A fire watch is also required for one hour after each chainsaw use.
·         Cutting, grinding, and welding of metal is not allowed between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. during high fire danger. These activities will be allowed during hours outside of this time frame only if the work site is cleared of potentially flammable vegetation and other materials, and a water supply is at the job site.
·         The mowing of dead or dried grass with power-driven equipment is not allowed between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. during high fire danger. This restriction does not include mowing of green lawns, or equipment used for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.
·         Any other spark-emitting internal combustion engine-use not specifically mentioned is not allowed between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. during high fire danger. Use of any spark-emitting internal combustion engine is allowed outside of this time frame only if the work site is cleared of potentially flammable vegetation and other materials, and a water supply is at the job site.
·         Any electric fence controllers must be approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories Inc., or be certified by the Department of Consumer and Business Services, and be installed and used in compliance with the fence controller’s instructions for fire safe operation.
For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s fire season public restrictions, please call or visit the Southwest Oregon District unit office nearest to you:
·         Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd., Central Point. (541) 664-3328
·         Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Dr., Grants Pass. (541) 474-3152
Fire season information is also available online at our Facebook page: @ODFSouthwest and our website: www.swofire.com.

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

ODF Firefighters Chasing New Starts across Southern Oregon

Firefighters from the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District have already tackled six wildfires overnight; however, additional new fire starts are expected to pop-up as the temperatures begin to rise throughout the day. ODF’s Southwest Oregon District, which encompasses 1.8 million acres of land in Jackson and Josephine Counties, was pummeled with nearly 200 lightning strikes in a few short hours yesterday evening. Only a quarter of those hits were positive strikes, meaning the strikes are more powerfully charged compared to a negative strike; therefore, more likely to spark a wildfire. Firefighters will be gridding the landscape surrounding those confirmed positive strikes in order to try to catch any new starts while they are small.

 Of the six wildfires located in the past 12 hours, five of them are 100 percent lined and 100 percent mopped up; all five were stopped at less than one acre in size. The sixth fire, being called the East Antelope Fire, was recently mapped at 3 acres. The fire burning six miles east of Roxy Ann Peak on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) forestland is close to being fully lined. Firefighters will continue making progress on this fire until we reach 100 percent containment.
In addition to firefighters patrolling on the ground, a FLIR-equipped aircraft is lending a helping hand to the District today. This aerial resource will utilize thermal imaging technology to help detect new starts throughout southern Oregon from high above all of the existing smoke. Additionally, ODF Southwest has its air attack platform and helicopters available for initial attack, as visibility allows.
With forecasted thunderstorms anticipated to roll into our region today, ODF firefighters will remain vigilant - knocking down new fires as quickly as possible. However, we need your help in preventing any and all human-caused starts. We would like to remind everyone that the fire danger level on Oregon Department of Forestry protected lands in Jackson and Josephine counties remains at “extreme” (red) today. For a full list of the public restrictions currently in place, visit our Facebook page: @ODFSouthwest or our website: www.swofire.com.

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Fire Restrictions Lower for Industrial Operators Today

High relative humidity and slightly improved air quality has prompted the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District to drop the Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) to III (three) today, effective immediately.
Please note, this is separate from the general public fire restrictions currently in effect. ODF Southwest’s public restrictions remain in place and unchanged with a fire danger level of “extreme” (red).
The following are prohibited between 1:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.:
  • Power saws at loading sites;
  • Loading or hauling of any product or material;
  • Blasting;
  • Welding, cutting, or grinding of metal;
  • Any other spark emitting operation not specifically mentioned.
In addition, the following are permitted to operate overnight to the morning, between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m., where mechanized equipment capable of constructing fire line is immediately available to quickly reach and effectively attack a fire start:
  • Ground-based operations (tractor/skidder, feller-buncher, forwarder, or shovel logging operations);
  • Power saws on ground-based operations;
  • Rotary head saw feller-bunchers with a continuous Firewatch;
  • Non-rotary head saw feller-bunchers;
  • Tethered logging - winch-assisted, cable-assisted, traction-assisted, etc. systems, which enable ground-based timber harvesting machines to operate on steep slopes.
This is considered a restricted shutdown and the following activities are not permitted at any time, except as noted:
  • Cable yarding systems, except that gravity operated logging systems using non-motorized carriages or approved motorized carriages may operate between 8:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m., when all blocks and moving lines are suspended at least 10 feet above the ground (except the line between the carriage and the chokers).
For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s public or industrial fire season restrictions, visit our Facebook page: ODF Southwest Oregon District, or our website www.swofire.com.

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Friday, September 1, 2017

IFPL IV in Effect September 1

Increased fire danger on forestlands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District has made it necessary to increase the fire prevention measures on logging and non-logging industrial operations, as well as all other commercial operations. Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) IV (Four) takes effect at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow, Friday, September 1, 2017.
Please note, this is separate from the general public fire restrictions currently in effect. ODF Southwest’s fire restrictions remain in place and unchanged with a fire danger level of “extreme” (red).
Under IFPL IV, all industrial actions are prohibited. Industrial actions include cable yarding, use of power saws, logging operations using tractors, skidders, feller-bunchers, mechanized loading or hauling, blasting, welding or cutting of metal, or any other spark-emitting operation not yet mentioned.
No waivers will be issued for harvest or road construction activities. Waivers may be considered on a case-by-case basis for extremely low risk operations.
ODF Southwest fully understands the burden that this places on our industrial cooperators and the local economy.  This decision is never made lightly; in fact, it has been more than 20 years since ODF Southwest has issued a Level IV closure.
In regards to the duration of this closure, ODF Southwest personnel will be constantly monitoring several factors; including weather conditions and smoke forecasts - just to name a few, in order to lower the IFPL Level, as soon as safely possible.
For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s public or industrial fire season restrictions, visit our Facebook page: ODF Southwest Oregon District, or our websitewww.swofire.com.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Nugget and Grizzly Peak Fires 100 Percent Lined

After sixty straight hours of firefighting, the Nugget Fire is 100 percent lined as of today. Initially, the terrain posed too many challenges to crews to build a direct fire line, such as steep slopes, an abundance of hazard trees and poor access leaving limited to no escape routes. However, over the past 24 hours significant progress has been made in improving access and creating safety zones. Local contractors from Butte Falls to Roseburg were brought in to assist with the removal of numerous hazard trees all within the fire’s estimated 5 to 10 acre perimeter. This allowed firefighters overnight to switch tactics from building indirect line away from the fire’s edge, to constructing a control line up against the perimeter of the burning landscape. Firefighters are now set up for a more successful and safe firefight.
Air operations continues to play a vital role in the Nugget Fire. The continuous bucket drops being made have helped cool hot spots while ground crews chipped away at their respective goals. While members of the community will still see helicopters dipping out of the Rogue River in Gold Hill, this is to continue to suppress the interior heat while firefighters on the ground begin mopping up from the perimeter moving inward.
The Nugget Fire was first reported late Thursday night burning on Nugget Butte in Gold Hill. The cause of the fire is under investigation. We would like to thank our partners and members of the community for the continued support.
The series of fires near Grizzly Peak are now 100 percent lined and 90 percent mopped up. Firefighters will be combing the area this week in order to ensure that no additional hot spots are present. The trail system will remain closed until firefighters wrap up their work and feel that there is no longer a threat to public health and safety. Thank you all in advance for your patience.
Please keep in mind that we are still in “Extreme” Fire Danger in Jackson and Josephine Counties. Make sure you and your family are aware of the current fire restrictions in place. For additional information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s current fire restrictions, please visit: ODF Southwest on Facebook, or www.swofire.com.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday Evening Fire Update

Today, ODF Southwest firefighters and our cooperators tackled numerous fires on ODF-protected land across Jackson and Josephine Counties. While this storm has pushed our team to its limits, we are holding true to keeping fires as small as possible, and keeping the community safe. Nearly every fire we have shared information on this week is close to being fully lined and in mop up, except for the following:
The Nugget Fire is still challenging firefighters as the steep terrain covered in snags poses a hazard to all personnel on the ground. Crews are continuing to work on fire line around the perimeter, but access is also playing a role in the demanding firefight. The fire is still estimated to be 5 to 10 acres by ODF’s air attack, but we have not yet mapped the fire due to the same challenges previously mentioned. Overnight, firefighters will be focusing on building and strengthening control line. While the fire will be letting off smoke, the fire activity remains moderate primarily in the interior of the burn. No homes are threatened by this fire.
Also, the series of Grizzly Peak Fires are being wrapped up, but additional mop up will be taking place tomorrow before we call all five of these fires 100% contained. Since air operations will continue cooling hot spots tomorrow, and firefighters will be working throughout the Grizzly Peak area, a temporary closure of the Grizzly Peak Trail system is in effect in order to protect public health and safety. For the full information on that closure, visit www.swofire.com.

We would like to thank the community for the tremendous amount of support we have all felt while working on countless number of fires since this storm took off Monday. We are also incredibly grateful for the partnerships in place with U.S. Forest Service Rogue River Siskiyou National Forest, Bureau of Land Management Medford District, all local city and county agencies, ODF Klamath-Lake District, Cal Fire and finally, Oregon Department of Forestry IMT I. The amount of fires we have been able to keep small is a testament to our superb partnerships throughout our area.