Monday, April 7, 2014

Sign up today for the Citizen's Fire Academy

The OSU Extension Service is pleased to offer the new Citizen Fire Academy state-wide program. The first regional training will take place in Southwest Oregon including Jackson and Josephine Counties to help local residents learn about ways to create a healthy, firewise environment on their property through classroom sessions, field trips and the creation of a personalized management / safety plan for their property.
The 8-week training course will provide training for southern Oregon residents on topics such as fire science, home protection strategies, fuels reduction, evaluating risk, fire-adapted communities and emergency preparedness, and much more. The Citizen Fire Academy is an education and service program that seeks to increase the outreach capacity of wildfire agencies, to help local residents safely prevent and prepare for wildfire, and to create more fire-adapted communities.
Weekly classes will take place on Tuesday afternoons, April 15th-June 3rd 1:00–5:30pm. Citizen Fire Academy participants will be required to invest 30 service hours to support and expand programs and projects related to wildfire and preparedness.
The cost of the course is $100; some scholarship assistance is available.
To sign up for the course, contact Rhianna Simes at (541) 776-7371, extension 211.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Oregon's Epic Fire Season

The 2013 Oregon wildfire season will long be remembered. Three firefighters died on fires in all jurisdictions, more than 100,000 acres burned on state-protected land, and the state's firefighting costs set a record. The video, "2013: An Epic Fire Season," chronicles the efforts of the Oregon Department of Forestry and its many landowner and agency partners to battle the huge blazes of last summer. What do you remember?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Warmer Weather Brings Backyard Debris Burning Safety Reminders

A look around the backyard this time of year likely will reveal a mix of old and new: daffodils and other early flowers popping into bloom, side by side with dead grass and the husks of last summer’s annuals. As you begin spring clean-up, please consider chipping or recycling your yard debris. But if burning is your only option, here are some tips to prevent that debris burn from becoming Oregon’s next wildfire.

  • Call before you burn - If you’re planning to burn, check with your local Oregon Department of Forestry district, fire protective association or air protection authority to learn if there are any current burning restrictions or regulations, and whether a permit is required. Fire officials may designate certain days for burning based on weather and wind conditions.
  • Know the weather forecast - Never burn on dry or windy days. When conditions are windy or dry, it is easy for open burning to spread out of control.
  • Clear a 10-foot radius around your pile - also make sure there are no tree branches or power lines above.  
  • Keep your burn pile small - A burn pile is less likely to escape control if it is kept small. A large burn may cast hot embers long distances. Add debris in small amounts as existing material is consumed.
  • Always have water and fire tools on site - When burning, have a charged water hose, bucket of water, and shovel and dirt or sand nearby to extinguish the fire. If you used sand or dirt to knock down a fire, go back and drown the pile with water, stir the coals, and drown again. Repeat until the fire is DEAD out.
  • Attend your burn at all times - A burn left unattended for only a few minutes can grow into a costly, damaging wildfire. Monitoring a debris burn continually from start to finish until dead out is required by state law, to ensure that any escaped sparks or embers can be extinguished quickly. Go back and recheck old burn piles, as they can retain heat for several weeks and rekindle when the weather warms and wind begins to blow.
  • NEVER use gasoline or other accelerants (flammable or combustible liquids) to start or increase your open fire. (Every year, 55-60 percent of all burns treated at the Oregon Burn Center in Portland are the result of backyard debris burning.)
  • Make sure it’s out – Completely extinguish your debris burn before leaving. Go back and recheck old burn piles, as they can retain heat for several weeks and rekindle when the weather warms and wind begins to blow.
  • Burn ONLY yard debris - Some plastics, treated lumber and other manufactured products give off toxic fumes when burned. State regulations prohibit the open burning of any material that creates dense smoke or noxious odors.
  • Escaped debris burns are costly – State law requires the proper clearing, building, attending and extinguishing of open fires any time of year. A first-time citation carries a $110 fine. If your debris burn spreads out of control, you are responsible for the cost of fire suppression and very likely the damage to neighboring properties. This can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. ODF spent over $190,000 in 2013 on fires caused by debris burning.
More tips on wildfire prevention, including campfire safety, motorized equipment use, and fire-resistant landscaping can be found on Keep Oregon Green's website.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Alder Creek Fire

A fire broke out yesterday around 2:00pm up Elk Creek Road outside of Shady Cove. The fire is located 16 miles northeast of Shady Cove (about 15 miles up Elk Creek Road). Currently the fire is estimated at 125 acres in size.

There are currently two twenty person crews, one bulldozer, four engines and two water tenders working to complete fire line and suppressing spot fires due to gusty winds.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Fire Weather Watch is now a Red Flag Warning

The National Weather Service has now upgraded its Fire Weather Watch to a Red Flag Warning. Starting tonight and continuing into midday Friday, forecasters are calling for strong, dry east/northeast winds throughout the Rogue Basin, the Siskiyou Mountains and the west side of the Cascade Range in southwest Oregon. Gusts could peak at 35 mph.

The Rogue Basin is very dry and residents are advised to hold off on ditch burning, pile burning, barrel burning and any other use of fire in wildland areas until this weather pattern changes. Low-elevation fields with blackberry bushes, buck brush, and standing weeds are particularly vulnerable during times like this.

Be careful out there.

Friday, January 10, 2014

It's Time to Prepare Your Home for Fire Season

More than 19,000 letters have been mailed to the owners of residential lots located in wildfire-prone areas of Josephine County. The letters describe the landowners’ vegetation fuel reduction responsibilities under the Oregon Forestland-Urban Interface Fire Protection Act, and include a self-certification form which should be mailed to the Oregon Dept. of Forestry when fuel reduction projects have been completed.

These forms are mailed to landowners every 5 years. The purpose of the law is to make homes and other structures more defensible against damage or destruction by wildfires.

In most cases, landowners are required to reduce potentially flammable vegetation within 50 feet of homes and other structures. Fuel reduction projects include:
  • Mowing tall, dry grass and weeds
  • Removing dead or dying trees, low-hanging tree branches, and shrubs
  • Thinning thickets of blackberry brush, manzanita and buck brush
  • Ensuring that the driveway to the residence is accessible to emergency vehicles
  • During the months of fire season, moving firewood and lumber piles at least 20 feet from structures, or putting firewood and lumber into an enclosed shed
No fuel reduction is required on lands where a permanent structure is not present.  A permanent structure is defined as a permanently sited building that is minimum of 500 square feet in size.

Returning a self-certification form to the Oregon Dept. of Forestry is an important step as it relieves a landowner from the law’s fire cost recovery penalty. An inspection of the property isn’t required prior to sending in a self-certification form; however, ODF fire prevention specialists are available to provide free, on-site evaluations upon request.

For more information, see the Southwest Oregon District’sWildfire Protection web page, or contact the Oregon Dept. of Forestry’s Grants Pass Unit at (541) 471-3889.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Reward Offered for Cause of Four Corners Fire

The Oregon Department of Forestry and the Oregon chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators are offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person, or people, who caused the Four Corners Fire. The fire started August 30 in southern Josephine County, one-half mile north of the community of Takilma. Specifically, the fire’s origin was at the junction of Waldo Rd., Takilma Rd., and Happy Camp Rd, an intersection locally known as Four Corners. The fire burned 15 acres of grass, brush and forestland and threatened homes in the area.

Anyone who has information about this fire is encouraged to call (800) 452-7888. Information is confidential.

The Four Corners Fire started at 4:10 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30, and cost $14,572 to extinguish. Suppression resources assigned to the fire include:
  • 7 wildfire fire engines
  • 1 bulldozer
  • 4 helicopters
  • 2 air tankers
  • 2 20-person crews
  • 2 fallers
Additionally, structural fire protection engines were sent from Illinois Valley Fire District and Rural Metro Fire Dept.