Monday, December 8, 2014

Holiday Tree Permits Available

It’s that time of year to start thinking of the annual family trip to the woods for a holiday tree. Holiday tree permits are available at Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management Offices, as well as at numerous vendor locations in southwest Oregon (see vendor list at http://www.fs.usda.gov/rogue-siskiyou.) Some locations may offer tree permits a little later than the official start date; we recommend you call the local office to check permit availability. The permits allow for the cutting of personal-use trees for Christmas and other holiday events. A permit is required for the harvest of each individual tree.

The permits sell for $ 5.00 per tree and are non-refundable. There is a limit of five tree permits per person. The permits cover large areas that include the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and the Coos Bay and Medford Districts of the BLM, where lands are open to personal use tree harvesting.   Maps with directions to cutting areas will be provided at time of purchase.

The Holiday tree permit tag is validated after harvesting your tree by cutting out the date, month and year on the tree tag and securely attaching it to the cut tree in a visible location before transporting it.

Important Note:
Holiday tree harvest is not allowed in wilderness areas, campgrounds, developed recreation areas, National Monuments, Research Natural Areas, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, or within fences or posted tree plantations, within 200 feet of state highways or on private lands.  Holiday tree cutting is also not permitted within the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, the Wild and Scenic Rogue River corridor and Recreation Areas.  This stresses the importance of having your tree permit map with you, along with a local Forest or BLM map, and a good understanding of your location prior to cutting.
                                                                                                                               
Holiday Tree Permits
Traveling safely on public lands is very important for you and your family’s health and safety.  Keep in mind that roads on public lands administered by the Forest Service and BLM are not plowed in the winter and can present some situations that quickly become dangerous if you are not properly prepared.

On any outing to the forest this time of year, be prepared for winter weather and check weather conditions prior to departure.  It is strongly encouraged that you take a reliable map of the area (Forest Service or BLM map in addition to your tree permit map) with you and travel with a full tank of gas.  Bring along adequate supplies such as warm clothing, blankets/sleeping bags, high energy food, water, warm beverages, first aid kit, flashlight, whistle, mirror, shovel and chains.

Always let someone know where you plan to harvest your tree and when you expect to return.  Consider going out with a more experienced friend if you are new to this activity or unfamiliar with the area in which you will be travelling.

The Bear Camp Coastal route is open but not recommended for travel this time of year, as the route is not maintained for winter travel from mid-November through the end of May.  Be safe, and happy holidays!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fire Season Ends on ODF-Protected Lands in SW Oregon

Fire season ends today on Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands in southwest Oregon. Rainfall of at least one-half inch was recorded in many parts of the district, which includes state, private, county, city and Bureau of Land Management forestlands in Jackson and Josephine counties.

Fire season started June 2 and lasted 136 days.

The termination of fire season removes fire prevention regulations on equipment use and the use of fire for debris burning. This applies to the public and to industrial operations on forestlands. However, many structural fire protection districts require permits for debris burning, and both Jackson and Josephine counties have telephone numbers to call to find out whether air quality conditions allow burning. The numbers to call are:
  • Josephine County: (541) 476-9663
  • Jackson County: (541) 776-7007
 More than 280 fires burned 9,559 acres on forestlands protected by ODF’s Southwest Oregon District. There are 1.8 million acres of forestland within the district’s protection boundary in Jackson and Josephine counties.

The largest blaze on the district was the Oregon Gulch Fire, which burned 35,129 acres of forestland in Jackson and Klamath counties, and Northern California. The Jackson County portion of the fire burned 8,306 acres, approximately 14 miles southeast of Ashland. The Oregon Gulch Fire was reported July 30 and was one fire in a complex of 23 other lightning-caused fires scattered around Jackson County.

The Salt Creek Fire, which also started July 30, burned 155 acres of forestland approximately 8 miles west of Shady Cove.

Lightning started 98 fires on the district and burned 9,071 acres. The thunderstorms hit July 11, July 22, July 29-30, August 11 and August 18.

The earliest fire on the district this year was the 143-acre Alder Creek Fire, which started January 23 during a period of unusual dryness and strong east winds. A fire that had been set to burn slash escaped control and started the Alder Creek Fire.

The 2014 fire season was similar to the summer of 2013, during which 348 fires burned 43,078 acres on lands protected by the Southwest Oregon District. Lightning-caused fires that year burned more than 42,000 acres.

For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s fire season regulations, contact the unit office in your area:
  • Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd., Central Point. Phone: (541) 664-3328
  • Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Drive, Grants Pass. Phone: (541) 474-3152
 
  

Monday, October 13, 2014

Latest Pocket Card and Fire Stats

Fire danger continues in Moderate until we have a change in weather. For the latest pocket card and fire stats please visit SWO Fire Data.

Monday, October 6, 2014

New Pocket Card and Fire Stats Posted

With unseasonably warm and dry weather SWO District will remain in moderate fire danger. Warm weather is expected to persist over the area for the forecast period. For the latest pocket card and fire stats please visit the SWO Fire Data website. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Updated Pocket Card and Fire Stats

With last week’s considerable rain and precipitation in the forecast fire danger has dropped to moderate over SWO District and IFPL 1. For the latest pocket card and fire stats please go to SWO Fire Data

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rain Reduces Fire Danger Level

[ Update Sept. 26 5:54 p.m.: The public regulated use fire danger level has been lowered to "Moderate" (blue) for at least the next few days. This applies to ODF-protected lands in Jackson and Josephine counties. ]

Cool and wet weather across southwest Oregon reduced wildfire danger on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District. The public regulated use fire danger level dropped to “high” (yellow) today. Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) 1 (one) also took effect this morning.

All restrictions on power equipment use by the public have been suspended. The restrictions on campfire use outside of designated campgrounds and driving motorized vehicles off improved roads have also been suspended. However, pile burning and burn barrel use will not be allowed. Fire season remains in effect in southwest Oregon.

Fire prevention regulations may change in a few days if dry weather conditions return.

These regulations affect 1.8 million acres of state, private, county, city and Bureau of Land Management lands in Jackson and Josephine counties.

The following public fire prevention regulations remain in effect:
  • No debris burning, including piles and debris burned in burn barrels;
  • No fireworks use on forestlands;
  • Exploding targets and tracer ammunition, or any bullet with a pyrotechnic charge in its base, are prohibited;
  • Smoking while traveling is allowed only in enclosed vehicles on improved roads;
  • 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 1:
  • Loggers and other industrial operators must have fire suppression tools at the job site;
  • Watchman service must be provided.
Information about fire season restrictions on ODF-protected lands is available at ODF Southwest Oregon District unit offices:
  • Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd: (541) 664-3328
  • Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Dr: (541) 474-3152
 
  

Rain Cools Onion Mountain Fire

Fire at a Glance

Location: 15 miles west of Grants Pass, Oregon

Size: 4,123 acres

Containment: 80%

Assigned personnel: 533
Aircraft:
  • 2 Heavy-lift helicopters
  • 2 Medium-lift helicopters
  • 1 Light-lift helicopter
  • 1 Fixed-wing air management aircraft

With the coming of strong pre-frontal southwestern winds on Tuesday, a portion of the fire near Taylor Creek Falls heated up, and as a precaution firefighters utilized bucket drops from heavy-lift helicopters to cool off the area. Most equipment was pulled off of the northeastern flank of the fire as containment was achieved in that area. Dozer lines along the eastern edge were fully water-barred and repaired. The final MIST tank was removed by helicopter on Tuesday.

Crews have been working feverishly to finish critical water bars before the rains hit in order to minimize the erosional impacts of the firelines. Resource advisors were pleased this morning that all lines had been “tucked in” and ready for rain. Still, with the amount of rain predicted, there are concerns that slides may occur.

Plans for today will remain flexible as crews watch to ensure that they are able to work safely in wet, muddy, windy conditions. One of the primary concerns within the fire area is the frequent and sudden falling of fire-weakened snags and trees as the wind blows and the soil becomes saturated.

Winds will be from the southwest gusting to 25 mph today, bringing up to 1.5 inches of rain over the fire area by noon. Clouds will likely remain through Thursday. Some clearing and minor warming is expected Friday through Sunday.

The number of firefighters, aircraft, and other firefighting equipment continues to decline as crews demobilize and return home or are reassigned to other fires. 

Oregon Incident Management Team #1 is preparing to return management of the fire back to the Wild Rivers District on Friday morning. The District has assembled a Type 3 team numbering nearly 150 firefighters to complete fire suppression activities.

The local Blue-grass band Sequoia expressed their appreciation to firefighters by donating their time and talent to entertain fire crews during dinner on Tuesday night.

Closures: Sam Brown Campground and Horse Camp, Briggs Campground, Myers Campground, Portions of Forest Roads 2500, 2509, and 2706. See the forest website for specific information. http://www.fs.usda.gov/rogue-siskiyou/
For further information, call (541) 471-7441, send an e-mail, or visit the Josephine County Emergency Preparedness page on Facebook, or the Onion Mountain Fire's pages on InciWeb.

IFPL 1 Takes Effect Today on ODF-Protected Lands

Good rainfall across Jackson and Josephine counties has made it possible to relax fire prevention regulations on industrial operations. Industrial Fire Precaution Level 1 (one) takes effect this morning in all regulated use zones for logging operations, and other industrial operations in wildland and forest areas. This applies to state, private, county and Bureau of Land Management lands.

Operators are required to have fire suppression tools at the job site, and provide watchman service.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Onion Mountain Fire: Patrol and Mop-Up

Monday, crews continued to patrol and mop-up hot spots. Mop-up activity reached as far as 150 feet in from the line depending on ground conditions and what the crews deemed to be a safe working area. On the southeast portion of the fire, crews used hand held infrared heat sensing equipment to locate hot spots and found none.

Monday Night, crews patrolled the western and northern portion of the fire finding very few hot spots. Night operations will be discontinued as rain moves over the area.

Today, crews will continue to monitor and mop-up along all sections of the fire. Equipment will be used in suppression repair work (water barring line and pulling slash back over the disturbed areas to prevent erosion) on all areas of the fire.

Where possible, machinery, hose, pumps, and other suppression equipment will be removed from the fire area and hauled back to camp in advance of expected rain Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Monday morning, the fire camp was visited by Senator Ron Wyden. He was give a briefing on fire status and the cooperative efforts by federal, state and local agencies. He also discussed with agency and fire officials efforts needed to reduce the impact of wildfires on local residents and the economy and alternate methods of funding.

The weather is expected to continue to cool over the next few days as a cold front moves through the area. South to southwest winds will accompany the front passage, but are expected to have little impact on the fire. Rain is forecasted to fall over the fire area.

With the coming rain, we encourage the public to drive carefully on the wet roadways and be alert to fire traffic that will still be present.

Fire at a Glance

Location: 15 miles west of Grants Pass, Oregon

Size: 4,105 acres

Containment: 70%

Assigned personnel: 674

Aircraft:
  • 2 Heavy-lift helicopters
  • 1 Medium-lift helicopters
  • 1 Light-lift helicopters
  • 1 Fixed-wing air management aircraft
Closures: Sam Brown Campground and Horse Camp, Briggs Campground, Myers Campground, Portions of Forest Roads 2500, 2509, and 2706. See the forest website for specific information.
http://www.fs.usda.gov/rogue-siskiyou/

For further information, call (541) 471-7441, send an e-mail, or visit the Josephine County Emergency Preparedness page on Facebook, or the Onion Mountain Fire's pages on InciWeb.

 

Monday, September 22, 2014

All Evacuation Alerts Lifted from Onion Mountain Fire Area

Yesterday, crews continued to patrol exterior lines and mop-up any hot spots. Some portions of the line were mopped-up and cold trailed as far in as 150 feet. Chippers worked to finish up treatment of brush cleared from roadsides. On the northwest portion, where mop-up is complete and lines are solid, crews pulled hose and returned it to camp.
Several areas of intense heat were identified in interior portions of the burn area. One of the areas was worked on by a hotshot crew while others were treated with helicopter water drops to reduce fire intensity. None of these pose any threat to established fire lines.
Along the perimeter, only a few areas were found that needed helicopter support to deal with. Helicopters were used to refill remote water storage units that supported mop-up activities.

Last night at 6:00 pm, all evacuation notices were lifted by the Josephine County Sheriff. No evacuation notices are currently in effect for areas near the Onion Mountain Fire.

Today, crews will continue to monitor and mop-up along all sections of the perimeter. Suppression repair (water barring line and pulling slash back over the disturbed areas to prevent erosion) will begin in some areas in advance of expected rain on Wednesday. Hose and other equipment will be gathered from the line and returned to camp from areas where mop-up is complete.

With the lifting of the evacuation notices, the one remaining structure protection engine will be released. A night shift will again patrol areas of the fire and take action on any hot spots found.
The weather is expected to cool gradually over the next few days; humidity will rise; winds will be light out of the west. This should decrease the chance of active fire developing. Possible wetting rain is expected Wednesday and Thursday.

Fire at a Glance

Size: 4,106 acres

Containment: 60%

Assigned personnel: 923

Aircraft:
  • 4 Heavy-lift helicopters
  • 4 Medium-lift helicopters
  • 1 Light-lift helicopters
  • 1 Fixed-wing air management aircraft
Location: 15 miles west of Grants Pass, Oregon
Closures: Sam Brown Campground and Horse Camp, Briggs Campground, Myers Campground, Portions of Forest Roads 2500, 2509, and 2706. See the forest website for specific information.
http://www.fs.usda.gov/rogue-siskiyou/

For further information, call (541) 471-7441, send an e-mail, or visit the Josephine County Emergency Preparedness page on Facebook, or the Onion Mountain Fire's pages on InciWeb.

New Pocket Card and Fire Stats Update

With milder weather and days continuing to shorten we have made the corner and begun a slight downturn in ERC values. We are also seeing some better recovery of our large fuel moistures. Southwest Oregon will maintain the extreme fire danger until these values drop significantly further, likely accompanied with precipitation. The weather forecast does call for showers mid-week returning to regular seasonal temps later. For the latest pocket card and fire stats please visit the SWO Fire Data website.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Onion Mountain Fire 30 Percent Contained

Fire at a Glance

Size: 4,105 acres

Containment: 30%

Assigned personnel: 1,001

Aircraft:

  • 5 Heavy-lift helicopters
  • 5 Medium-lift helicopters
  • 2 Light-lift helicopters
  • 5 Air Tankers available
  • 2 Fixed-wing air management aircraft

Location: 15 miles west of Grants Pass, Oregon

Firefighters fortified existing containment lines by wetting down the fire’s edge with water pumps and hoses, extinguishing burning material within the fire perimeter. Crews made progress establishing and securing fireline on previously unlined areas, including the west and northwest flanks, leaving most of the fire with at least a minimal control line. Several spot fires found outside of the fire perimeter were corralled and secured during the previous shift.

Yesterday’s clear skies allowed helicopters to drop water on areas of heat inside the fire perimeter. Air operations will continue supporting ground troops today, especially in areas posing containment issues due to inaccessible terrain. Dozers finished a contingency line east of the fire, providing an additional safeguard between the fire perimeter and residences.

Firefighters will brace for another round of hot and dry weather today as near-record temperatures may reach 100 degrees with minimum humidity in the upper teens to lower 20s. Strong east winds transitioning to west winds in the afternoon and an unstable atmosphere will also challenge containment efforts on all flanks by stimulating fire activity.

A Level 1 Evacuation Notice advising residents to be aware of fire danger in the area remains in place for residents in the Pickett Creek, Shan Creek, Taylor Creek, and Galice Creek areas.

Please be careful while recreating in the forest this weekend as fire season is still in effect with an extreme fire danger warning. Local residents and visitors to the Merlin area are advised to drive cautiously and adhere to posted closure notices for both public and firefighter safety.

For further information, call (541) 471-7441, send an e-mail, or visit the Josephine County Emergency Preparedness page on Facebook, or the Onion Mountain Fire's pages on InciWeb.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Wildfire: It's not if, but When


This fire season has shown to be a long and grueling one. Stretching across the state from Klamath Falls to La Grande to Veneta, it started early and seems not to have an end in sight yet. Defensible space around your home is the critical piece to improve the survivability of your home in the event of a wildfire, and there is still time to create it this fire season.

“Creating defensible space around your home is the best way to make your home more survivable in the wake of a wildfire,” says Oregon Department of Forestry’s Matt Flock. “The more you can do to make your home defensible now, will be critical if a wildfire hits your community and you’re not home.”

When a wildfire starts, there is little to no warning. Defensible space is the way to prepare our homes and property to have a fighting chance in the wildland-urban interface (WUI), said the Community Wildfire Forester.

During a wildfire, firefighters work intensely to prepare homes in the path of a wildfire. The more that landowners can accomplish before the incident happens, the less time firefighters will need to spend preparing the homes and can focus instead on stopping the fire.

“It’s the little things you can do that play a key role in keeping your home, family and community safe,” he said.

Wildfires that occur in the WUI often are started by human activity and then spread to the forest. Corvallis recently had an 86-acre fire on the north side of town that threatened many homes. For residents, it was a sobering moment of what fire can do and how real it can become to communities near wooded areas.

Once underway a fire follows the fuel, whether it is trees or houses. Creating defensible space around a house is a proven way to make it less vulnerable to wildfire. The National Firewise Communities Program has great tips for WUI residents to refer to. The program says “Defensible space” simply means to:

  • Maintain the landscape around a home to reduce fire danger.
  • Provide safe access to firefighters so they can protect it.

To create defensible space, Firewise advises to start with the house and work your way out:

Check the roof and rain gutters
Leaves and needles in gutters are very susceptible to the ember showers that commonly occur at the head of a raging wildfire. Cleaning that material out from the gutters and off the roof of your home will make it much more difficult for a fire to start there. 

Remove fuel sources close to the house
The perimeter of the home and attachments out to about five feet are vulnerable if organic mulch, arborvitae or other flammable plants are located in that area. A wind-cast ember or a creeping ground fire could ignite fuels in this zone and carry flames to the structure.

Maintain landscaping in the middle zone
Plants in the zone about 30 to 100 feet from the house should be low-growing and well irrigated. Firewise advises to:

  • Leave 30 feet between clusters of two to three trees, or 20 feet between individual trees.
  • Encourage a mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees.
  • Create fuel breaks, such as driveways, gravel walkways and lawns.
  • Prune trees up six to 10 feet from the ground.

Pruning trees in this way inhibits a wildfire from climbing into the crowns and carrying flames from tree to tree, and eventually to the house. Doing that allows the fire to stay on the ground where firefighters can fight the fire and keep its spread to a minimum.

Outer Zone
The zone 100 to 200 feet from the home requires less attention but still should be looked at for ways to create an outer buffer to wildfire. Trees may need to be thinned, though less intensively than those closer in.

  • Remove any heavy accumulations of woody debris.
  • Thin out clusters of small trees and remove ladder fuels that can climb into tree canopies.
  • Reduce the density of tall trees so canopies are not touching.

Homeowner / Firefighter access
Prune trees along the driveway and trim back shrubs so that the egress to leave your home is not blocked by intense fire behavior. Firefighter will need to use that same road to get into your home as well. Keeping it trimmed and open allows them to do their job and attack the fire as well.

More tips on how to create defensible space around your home and protect it from wildfire can be found at: www.firewise.org.

Onion Mountain Fire Update for Friday

Fire at a Glance
 
Size: 4,102 acres
 
Containment: 20%
 
Assigned personnel: 962
 
Aircraft:
  • 5 Heavy-lift helicopters
  • 5 Medium-lift helicopters
  • 2 Light-lift helicopters
  • 5 Air Tankers available
  • 2 Fixed-wing air management aircraft
 Location: 15 miles west of Grants Pass
 
Closures: Sam Brown Campground and Horse Camp, Briggs Campground, Myers Campground, Portions of Forest Road (FR) 2500, FR 2509, and FR 2706. http://www.fs.usda.gov/rogue-siskiyou/
 
Firefighters had another productive day building containment lines around a good portion of the fire perimeter, taking advantage of decreased burning conditions from cool, wet weather. Crews progressed significantly in their effort to contain the western and northern flanks by constructing direct line along the unchecked fire edge.
 
Crews began installing pumps and hoselays so water can be used to bolster completed handline and dozer line and begin mopping up burning materials along the fire perimeter. As a contingency or back up plan, crews and heavy equipment will continue brushing road systems and use chippers to dispose of the debris.
 
The majority of aircraft assigned to the fire remained grounded yesterday due to poor visibility, but clear skies today should enable helicopters and airplanes to assist the firefighting effort by dropping water and providing aerial surveillance.

Fire personnel will now dig in as hot and dry weather paired with steady east winds and poor overnight humidity recovery should elevate fire activity and test existing control lines over the next few days. The forecast calls for daytime highs in the mid-70s and mid-80s with relative humidity bottoming out at 20 to 25 percent.

Approximately 150 people attended the public meeting last night at Fleming Middle School. Fire management team members and local agency representatives addressed the audience providing the fire situation, dispelling community rumors, and answering questions from concerned citizens.

Evacuation levels have been removed for all of Riverbanks and Limpy Creek roads. A Level 1 Evacuation Notice advising residents to be aware of fire danger in the area remains in effect for residents in the Pickett Creek, Shan Creek, Taylor Creek, and Galice Creek areas.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Industrial Fire Precaution Level 2 Takes Effect Today

Rain yesterday and the probability of more rain today allowed the Oregon Department of Forestry to lower the Industrial Fire Precaution Level to level 2 (two) today. This affects industrial operations on ODF-protected lands in Jackson and Josephine counties.

Fire prevention regulations for the public are unchanged.

Under IFPL 2, the following regulations are now in effect for regulated use zones SW-1, SW-2, SW-3, SW-4, SK-3, RR-1, RR-2 and RR-3:
  • The use of fire in any form is prohibited
  • The use of power saws is prohibited, except at loading sites, between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
  • The use of cable yarders is prohibited between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
  • Blasting is prohibited between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
  • Welding or cutting of metal are prohibited between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
 Additionally, commercial operators on forestlands are required to have fire suppression equipment on site and provide watchman service.
 
  

Rain Cools Onion Mountain Fire

Fire at a Glance

Size: 4,077 acres


Containment: 8%
Assigned personnel:  780
 
Aircraft:
  • 6 Heavy-lift helicopters
  • 5 Medium-lift helicopters
  • 3 Light-lift helicopters
  • 5 Air Tankers available
  • 2 Fixed-wing air management aircraft
 Location:  15 miles west of Grants Pass, Oregon

Rain occurred over much of the fire area yesterday afternoon and throughout the night, giving fire personnel an opportunity to make good headway building containment lines.  Firefighters held and improved existing lines, while continuing fireline construction along the south and east flanks of the fire.  Crews and heavy equipment also made progress preparing indirect lines on the western portion of the fire utilizing existing roads and ridgetops.

Showers and cooler temperatures forecasted for today will drastically decrease fire activity and allow firefighters to continue direct handline and dozer line construction where safely possible.  High temperatures are expected to range from 60 to 70 degrees, while minimum humidity will be around 50 to 55 percent, as the low pressure system remains in the area.  Hot and dry weather is predicted to return to the area this weekend.

Air operations were limited for most of the day due to cloud cover and smoky conditions, and a low cloud base could keep much of the available aircraft grounded today.  A structure protection group has completed their assessment of the nearby residences and will remain in place to implement a defensive strategy in the event the fire grows north and eastward and threatens residences.

A public meeting will be held Thursday (today) at 6:30 p.m. in the Fleming Middle School to provide fire information and address concerns.  All interested persons are welcome and encouraged to attend.  The school address is 6001 Monument Drive, Grants Pass, OR 97526.

Road, area, and campground closures remain in place to provide  public and firefighter safety.  A Level 1 Evacuation Notice advising residents to be aware of fire danger in the area is still in effect for residents in the Pickett Creek, Shan Creek, Riverbanks Road, and Taylor Creek Road areas.


Fire Information Number: 541-471-7441

Fire Information E-Mail: 
onionmtfireinfo@gmail.com

Fire Information Website:  
http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4111/
 
Josephine County Emergency Preparedness” Facebook Page

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fireline Construction Continues on Onion Mountain Fire

Working from a secure anchor point on the southeast corner of the fire, crews and dozers made progress establishing and securing containment lines along the east flank.  Firefighters also began constructing direct and indirect lines along the southern and western flanks of the fire utilizing existing roads and a major ridge.

Fire at a Glance

Size: 3,735 acres


Containment: 5%

Assigned personnel:  514
Aircraft:
  • 6 Heavy-lift helicopters
  • 5 Medium-lift helicopters
  • 2 Light-lift helicopters
  • 5 Air Tankers available
  • 2 Fixed-wing air management aircraft
Location:  15 miles west of Grants Pass, Oregon
 
Area Closures:  Detailed information regarding the area closures can be found at:
 
http://www.fs.usda.gov/rogue-siskiyou/

Closures: Sam Brown Campground and Horse Camp, Briggs Campground, Myers Campground, Portions of Forest Road (FR) 2500, FR 2509, and FR 2706.


A Level 1 Evacuation Notice, advising residents to be ready, remains in effect for residences in the Pickett Creek, Shan Creek, Riverbanks Road, and Taylor Creek Road areas.  Road, area and campground closures have been issued for public and firefighter safety. 

Helicopters dropped water and air tankers dropped retardant to assist firefighting efforts, but poor visibility due to smoky conditions limited the use of aircraft in some sections of the fire.  Lingering smoke may hinder air operations again today.

The fire grew about 600 acres to the north Tuesday.  An incoming low pressure system will bring cooler weather and  showers are expected this afternoon and into Thursday.  High temperatures ranging from 70 to 80 degrees and minimum humidity around 35 to 40 percent are forecasted for today.

Fire personnel will take advantage of the weather by continuing to build containment lines as close to the fire’s edge as possible.  A structure protection group to assess home protection remains in place in the event the fire grows and threatens homes and businesses in the area.

A public meeting will be held at Fleming Middle School, Thursday at 6:30 p.m. to provide information regarding the Onion Mountain Fire.  The school address is 6001 Monument Drive, Grants Pass, OR 97526. All interested persons are encouraged to attend.


Fire Information Number:  541-471-7441

Fire Information E-Mail:
onionmtfireinfo@gmail.com

Fire Information Websites:  
http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4111/

“Josephine County Emergency Preparedness” Facebook Page

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 16 Pocket Card and Stats

Southwest Oregon District continues the record setting trends for ERC values and fire danger late into fire season. With the unseasonably warm dry weather persisting we will continue to see the possibility for radical fire behavior. As such fire danger will maintain at extreme through this week until significant weather can bring relief. The forecast only calls for chances of moderate precipitation across the region. Please visit the SWO Fire Data site for the latest pocket card and fire stats.  

Onion Mountain Fire Early Afternoon Update

Firefighters gained a small foothold on the east side of the Onion Mountain Fire on Monday. Using dozers and crews they were able to surround spots that had spread to the east and successfully burn out the remaining fuels to tie the line into the 640 road. A few isolated spots remain east of the 640 road, but they are contained.

Onion Mountain Fire at a Glance
Size: 2,949 acres

Containment: 2%

Assigned personnel: 315
Aircraft:
  • 6 Heavy-lift helicopters
  • 4 Medium-lift helicopters
  • 2 Light-lift helicopters
  • 5 Air Tankers available
  • 2 Fixed-wing air management aircraft
Location: 15 miles west of Grants Pass, Oregon

Closures: Sam Brown Campground and Horse Camp, Briggs Campground, Myers Campground, Portions of Forest Road (FR) 2500, FR 2509, and FR 2706.

Level 1 Evacuation Notices are still in effect for Pickett Creek area, Shan Creek Road from Riverbanks Rd west; Riverbanks Rd from Limpy Creek Rd to Robertson Bridge; and Taylor Creek Road.
 
On Monday, retardant was dropped along the southeast side of the fire; crews and dozers will be building line in that area today. Also today, crews plan to establish containment line along the southwest flank of the fire assisted by retardant drops as needed.

The primary spread of the fire on Monday was to the northeast and a push from the southwest is expected to continue today. Resources from Oregon Department of Forestry are engaged in the effort to stop the northeastward progress of the fire.

A structural protection group from Rural/Metro Fire Department is in place as a contingency in the event the fire were to make a run toward populated areas.

Temperatures today are expected to reach 85 degrees; relative humidity will rise to 25-30% as a cold front passes the area this evening.

The Level 1 Evacuation Notice for residences in the Pickett Creek, Shan Creek, Riverbanks Road, and Taylor Creek Road areas remain in effect. Road and Campground closures are in place for public and firefighter safety.

Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team #1 is working in cooperation with Oregon Department of Forestry and Rural/Metro Fire Department to manage the Onion Mountain Fire.

For information, call (541) 471-7441 or e-mail onionmtfireinfo@gmail.com.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Onion Mountain Fire Morning Update

Oregon Incident Management Team #1 (Oregon Team 1) assumed command of the Onion Mt Fire this morning at 6:00 a.m.
  • Total incident size: 1,954 acres
  • Containment: 0%
  • Assigned personnel: 200
  • Aircraft:
    • 6 Type 1 heavy helicopters
    • 1 Type 2 medium helicopter
    • 2 Fixed-wing air management aircraft
  • Location: 13 miles west of Grants Pass
  • Cause: Unknown on September 13, 2014, at approximately 8:00 a.m.
  • Fire information number: (541) 471-6755
  • Fire information e-mail: onionmtfireinfo@gmail.com
  • Fire information websites:
An infrared mapping flight was done early this morning, which provided better information on the size of the fire, and the perimeter lines. Crews will be concentrating on the southern and northeast portions of the fire today.

Additional ground personnel, along with additional engines, and air support has been ordered. Plans are already developed to use these resources as they arrive. There is also 5 air tankers stationed at the Medford airport that can be utilized.

A Level 1 Evacuation notice (Be Ready) has been issued for the following areas:
  1. The entire Pickett Creek area, including Pickett Creek Rd, West Pickett Creek Rd and all roads off of those. Everything North of the Robertson Bridge on the West side of the Rogue River.
  2. All of the Shan Creek Rd. system from Riverbanks Rd. to the west.
  3. Riverbanks Rd. from Limpy Creek Rd. to the Robertson Bridge.
  4. All of Taylor Creek Rd. (FS25 Rd) road system from Galice Road, including connection to the 2509 Road that enters Hwy. 199 at the top of Hayes Hill.
These additional areas have also been put under a closure order, for both public and firefighter safety:
Sam Brown Campground,  Sam Brown Horse Camp, Briggs Camp Campground,  Myers Camp Campground, Portions of  Forest Road #2500,  Forest Road #2509, and  Forest Road 2706.

The public should be aware that there may be heavy firefighter traffic on the roads at times, and to drive appropriately.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wildfire Danger on the Rise in Oregon

For wildfire managers, the current forecast of dry easterly winds and rising temperatures means just one thing: elevated fire behavior. East winds, common in late summer and early fall, can turn a smoldering campfire or an errant spark from a vehicle into a raging blaze in minutes. And the winds coming later this week are predicted to be especially strong – 15 to 20 mph. The low humidity, coupled with wind and high temperatures, can turbocharge even the smallest fire start.

Whether this weather event spawns new wildfires depends almost entirely on how Oregonians behave in the forest. This time of year, human activity is the chief cause of fires, not lightning. We can prevent wildfires by taking extra precautions as we work and recreate in the forest. You can make the difference by following a few simple tips:
  • Operate ATVs and other motorized vehicles only on established roads.
  • Check your vehicle for dragging tow chains that can send sparks into roadside vegetation.
  • Don’t park on dry grass – the hot exhaust system can set it smoldering in seconds.
  • Check current fire restrictions for the area before building a campfire. Open fires may be prohibited. But if allowed, tend the fire constantly and extinguish it thoroughly before leaving the area.
  • Smoke only in an enclosed vehicle. Properly dispose of cigarette butts.
The Keep Oregon Green Association offers additional tips on preventing wildfires

Friday, September 5, 2014

Red Flag Warning in Effect Through Saturday

Dry northeast winds and low humidity combine to continue extreme fire danger across southwest Oregon through Saturday. Late afternoon wind shifts could bring southwest breezes up to 20 mph in the Ashland area and in higher elevations.

Fire prevention reminder: Campfires are allowed only in designated campgrounds. Make sure your campfire is dead out before going to bed, and when you leave camp.

Please do all you can to help Keep Oregon Green.

Just One Spark

“Now is not the time to let our guard down,” says Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) Fire Prevention Coordinator Tom Fields when asked about the pending arrival of fall. “We are still experiencing extreme fire danger conditions throughout much of the state and we need everyone to remain vigilant in their efforts to prevent human caused fires.”

The National Weather Service is predicting continued hot weather through the weekend with much of western Oregon under a Red Flag Warning through Saturday. Combined with off shore winds and dry vegetation, the recipe for large fires is still a concern.

While the 525 human-caused fires in 2014 reflects the 10-year average on lands protected by ODF, the 13,000 acres burned is 10,000 more than the average. The Two Bulls Fire near Bend in early June and the Moccasin Fire near Klamath Falls in mid-July were two human caused fires that accounted for 9,500 of those acres. The Moccasin Fire also destroyed 17 homes.

“That’s just a testament to the type of conditions we have faced all summer,” says Fields. “Just one spark can lead to a fire, and that fire has the potential to grow exponentially in a very short amount of time.”

State Fire Marshal Jim Walker is encouraging Oregonians to use extreme caution and to practice safe outdoor equipment use.  “The impact of these fires has been far reaching to citizens and communities.  Following a few basic outdoor safety tips can keep the final days of summer enjoyable and safe.”     
 
As always, check what fire restrictions are in place before you head out. Most areas prohibit campfires outside approved campgrounds. Where campfires are allowed, be sure and build them in a safe area and most importantly, put them completely out before leaving.

Smoking and off road driving is also prohibited. Even vehicles idling over dry grass along the side of the road can start a fire. Earlier this week, a motor home ignited 10 small fires along Highway 97 when hot particles from a faulty catalytic converter spewed out into nearby dry grass.

Each year Oregon is faced with the challenge of wildfires impacting our forests and communities. We all have a stake in protecting what we feel is important to quality of life. In that vein, two opponents on the field are teaming up together to help put an end to careless human caused fires. Football coaches Mike Riley of Oregon State University and Mark Helfrich of the University of Oregon are spreading the word to “tackle” wildfires. Join the team today by visiting www.keeporegongreen.org.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fire Season Outlook: More of the Same



The monthly fire season outlook for the nation, issued at the first of every month by the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, says southwest Oregon will have “above normal fire potential” through September.

August temperatures in the Pacific Northwest were 3-6 degrees above normal and rainfall was less than normal. “Severe or worse drought conditions continued across much of the West,” and southwest Oregon had rainfall “well below normal.”

Southwest Oregon is expected to remain “at an elevated risk” for above normal wildfire activity at least through early September. “By October, all areas (in the Northwest) will be at normal significant fire potential.”

Warmer and drier than normal weather is expected to continue through November.

Monday, August 25, 2014

August 25 Pocket Card and Stat Update

Increasingly hot and dry weather is predicted across the district through the forecast period. Fires will continue to grow quickly and challenge initial attack resources. SWO district will maintain extreme fire danger this week and being increasing the IFPL to 3 starting August 26. For the latest pocket card and fire stats please visit the SWO Fire Data website. 


IFPL 3 Takes Effect (Again) Tomorrow

The Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) returns to Level 3 (three) tomorrow at 12:01 a.m. Under IFPL 3, the following fire prevention regulations will take effect on Tuesday, Aug. 26:
  • Cable yarding will not be allowed. However, gravity operated-logging systems employing non-motorized carriages may operate until 1:00 p.m. and after 8:00 p.m. These systems must have all blocks and moving lines suspended 10 feet above the ground, except the line between the carriage and the chokers;
  • Power saw use will not be allowed. However, power saws may be used until 1:00 p.m. and after 8:00 p.m. at loading sites and on tractor or skidder operations;
  • In addition, the following equipment and operations must shut down between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.:
    • Tractor/skidder, feller-buncher, forwarder, or shovel logging operations where tractors, skidders or other equipment with a blade capable of constructing fireline are immediately available to quickly reach and effectively attack a fire start;
    • Mechanized loading or hauling of any product or material;
    • Blasting;
    • Welding or cutting of metal;
    • Any spark-emitting not specifically mentioned above.
 The following IFPL regulations are currently in effect and will remain in effect:
  • The use of fire in any form is prohibited;
  • Commercial operations must have fire suppression equipment on the job site;
  • Watchman service must be provided.
For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s fire season regulations, contact the unit office in your area:
  • Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd., Central Point. Phone: (541) 664-3328
  • Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Drive, Grants Pass. Phone: (541) 474-3152

Friday, August 22, 2014

SWO Fires Receive IR Flights/Mapping

Today we were able to do reconnaissance flights with an infrared camera of the Oregon Gulch, Old Blue, and Rogue River Drive Fires. This allowed us to produce detailed heat signature maps that will focus crews on the remaining hot spots for mop-up. SWO Fire Data has been updated with these new maps. Please find them under the Maps heading then 2014 SWO District IR Maps.


Fire Line Terminology: Lined vs. Contained

When reporting progress toward containing a large wildfire, I will provide the amount of fire line that has been constructed and an estimate of the fire's level of containment. Both are expressed as percentages, but having a fire line completely around a fire doesn't necessarily mean the fire is completely contained.

Containment means there is little chance that a fire will be able generate enough intensity to jump the fire line and cause more trouble. A fire line all the way around a fire isn't the only factor in declaring a fire contained. The Oregon Department of Forestry likes to have a ring of completely extinguished area inside the fire line, which increases the distance between active flames in the center of the fire and the unburned fuel (vegetation) outside the fire line. On a large fire (100 acres or more) we shoot for having 300 feet inside the fire line completely mopped up before declaring it contained. If the fire has significant amounts of unburned fuel inside the fire line, we may not declare the fire contained until the areas of unburned fuel are burned up (by us, or by nature) or isolated (digging fire lines inside the main fire line to keep active flame from creeping or spotting into unburned areas).

It sometimes takes days or a week or more after a fire line is completed to be able to declare a fire contained.

ODF SWO District Fire Update

Yesterday afternoon, a fire broke out on McConville Pk., 6 miles north/northwest of Gold Hill, and was originally estimated to be 4 acres and growing. Three helicopters, a retardant bomber, several engines and a bulldozer were dispatched. Within an hour, the fire was knocked down by water drops from the helicopters and one load of retardant. Two of the helicopters, the retardant bomber, the bulldozer, and all but three of the engines were released. The fire was contained at less than 2 acres and was determined to be human-caused. Evidence was collected at the scene and the investigation into who caused the fire is underway.

The Old Blue Mountain Fire was 85 percent contained at the end of day on Thursday. Today, there are 4 crews, 5 engines and 4 water tenders working on mop up. Tonight, 1 crew, 2 engines and 2 water tenders will be assigned to patrol and mop up hot spots. Two 2-man teams will also be assigned to night shift to use hand-held infrared heat sensors to find buried coals.

The Rogue River Drive Fire was declared 100 percent contained Wednesday. Firefighters and engines continue to patrol the fire and mop up remaining hot spots.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Old Blue Mtn Fire 75 Percent Contained

Excellent progress on mopping up the Old Blue Mountain Fire has brought the containment level up to 75 percent this morning. The evacuation alert for Humbug Creek Rd was removed yesterday at 6:00 p.m., and the roadblock on the right fork of Foots Creek Rd was taken down at 8:00 a.m. today.

The fire is 99 acres in size and firefighters have completely mopped up all hot spots at least 200 feet inside the fire line. Their goal is to mop up 300 feet inside the fire line and remove hazard trees within 400 feet of the line.

Night shift is scaling back to one crew and two engines. The following fire suppression resources are assigned to the Old Blue Mountain Fire today:
  • 6 crews
  • 8 engines
  • 5 water tenders
  • 4 helicopters
  • 1 bulldozer
In addition, a strike team of engines is available for mop-up on the Old Blue Mountain Fire and for initial attack response to new fires that may break out.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Evacuation Alert Lifted for Humbug Creek Rd Area

Fire officials monitoring the Old Blue Mountain Fire today will remove the Level 1 evacuation alert from homes on Humbug Creek Rd at 6:00 p.m. The portions of road affected by the alert include homes on the main fork (address 2542 and up) and the entire left fork.

The evacuation alert was ordered early Tuesday afternoon by Applegate Valley Fire District No. 9 and the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Grants Pass Unit.

The roadblock near the 4 mile marker on the right fork of Foots Creek Rd remains in place.

The Old Blue Mountain Fire is holding at 99 acres and mop-up is in full swing.

Mop-Up Hits High Gear on Old Blue Mountain Fire

Thousands of gallons of helicopter-borne water was poured on the Old Blue Mountain Fire Tuesday, significantly knocking out numerous hot spots within the 99-acre blaze that broke out late Monday during a thunderstorm. Early this morning, Incident Commander Steve Wetmore (ODF) reported “Old Blue is one hundred percent lined and one hundred percent plumbed,” meaning the fire line was completed overnight and a system of fire hoses now encircles the burned area.

The fire is 30 percent contained.

The firefighters’ objective today is to mop-up hot spots 300 feet inside the fire line and patrol outside of the fire line to watch for spot fires. Helicopters and air tankers are available, if necessary.

No new fires were reported yesterday on ODF’s Southwest Oregon District. Reconnaissance flights are in the air today to search for holdover fires from Monday’s thunderstorms.

A Level 1 evacuation alert (Be Ready) remains in effect for portions of Humbug Creek Rd. in Jackson County:
  • All homes on the left fork of Humbug Creek Rd;
  • Addresses 2542 and above on the main fork of Humbug Creek Rd (the dirt portion).
The status of the evacuation level will be reviewed this afternoon. More progress on perimeter mop-up is necessary before removing the evacuation alert.

Also, the roadblock near the 4 mile marker on the right fork of Foots Creek Rd remains in place today.

New Pocket Card and Fire Stats Update

SWO District will continue in extreme fire danger through the forecast period, for the latest pocket card and updated stats please visit SWO Fire Data. A slight warming trend is expected and fuels continue to be very dry. The scattered precipitation received from recent weather events did help keep our ERC values in check. However, fires have continued to be difficult to control and quickly exceed initial attack capacity.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Helicopters Hammer Old Blue Mtn Fire

An endless parade of helicopters carrying large buckets of water dumped their loads from early morning until nearly nightfall on the Old Blue Mountain Fire today. Plenty of mop-up still needs be done, and a segment of fire line remains to be built, but the fire is considerably less fiery and smoky this evening than on Monday night.

The size of the Old Blue Mountain Fire has been revised upward to 99 acres, a product of more accurate mapping. The fire did not significantly increase in size today. Eighty-five percent of the fire line has been completed and the fire is 30 percent contained.

A full night shift will strive to connect the open sections of fire line, continue running hoses around the perimeter, and mop-up hot spots near to the fire line.

A Level 1 evacuation alert remains in effect on the left fork of Humbug Creek Rd and the unpaved section of the main fork of Humbug Creek Rd (starting from address 2542). Also, the right fork of Foots Creek Rd remains closed around the 4-mile mark except to residents and fire-related traffic.

August 19 Old Blue Fire Map

The latest map for the Old Blue Fire has been updated on the SWO FIRE Data website under Maps>2014 Fire Perimeter Maps. It is approximately 99 acres. 

How Long Will Fire Season Last?

The question has been coming up a lot lately: When will fire season end?

According to reports from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), the outlook for the Pacific Northwest is for warmer and drier than normal weather through November. Fire season in ODF's Southwest Oregon District is usually over by mid-October -- but, on occasion, it has extended into November. The last time it occurred was 2006 when fire season ended Nov. 2. The longest fire season has extended into fall, according to records kept since 1967, was 1987 when it ended Nov. 12.

Will this year set a new record? We'll have to wait and see, but the long-range forecasts are predicting the end will come later rather than sooner.

See ODF's Southwest District fire season start/end date history.

Air Tankers and Helicopters Bombard Old Blue Mountain Fire

Evacuation Level 1 Alert Issued for Humbug Creek Rd. Areas

Thunderstorms late Monday sparked eight lightning-caused fires on Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands in southwest Jackson County and southeast Josephine County. The largest is the Old Blue Mountain Fire, estimated at 60 acres, located 8 miles south of the city of Rogue River and 3 miles north of the town of Applegate.

A Level 1 evacuation alert (Be Ready) is in effect for portions of Humbug Creek Rd. in Jackson County:
  • All homes on the left fork of Humbug Creek Rd;
  • Addresses 2542 and above on the main fork of Humbug Creek Rd (the dirt portion).
 Notifications to residents affected by the evacuation alert were made by phone trees activated by Applegate Valley Fire District No. 9. Level 1 means to prepare for an evacuation – plan what things are essential to take, care for pets and livestock, and deciding where you will go should the evacuation level rise.

A roadblock is in place on the right fork of Foots Creek Rd. to restrict traffic to local residents and fire-related vehicles. No evacuation alerts are in effect for the Foots Creek area.

The Old Blue Mountain Fire is being fought by ODF Southwest Oregon District firefighters. Crews and bulldozers working overnight established a fire line 75 percent of the way around the fire’s perimeter, and the fire is 15 percent contained. Helicopters and air tankers are being used today to cool flames around the fire’s edge and to reinforce fire lines.

Fire suppression resources assigned to the Old Blue Mountain Fire today include:
  • 9 crews
  • 12 wildland fire engines
  • 8 helicopters
  • 4 air tankers
  • 3 bulldozers
  • 3 water tenders
 

Eight Lightning Fires Found on SWO District

[ Updated 12:11 p.m. ] A Level 1 evacuation alert has been issued for all homes on the left fork of Humbug Creek Rd., and homes on the dirt portion of the main fork of Humbug Creek Rd. (addresses 2542 and above). Residents are being notified by phone trees activated by Applegate Valley Fire District No. 9.

[ Updated 8:28 a.m. ] Old Blue Mountain Fire is estimated at 60 acres and has a fire line around 75 percent of the perimeter. A roadblock is in place on the Right Fork of Foots Creek Rd to restrict access to fire-related traffic. No evacuations have been requested.

Monday's thunderstorms sprayed lightning across the Siskiyou Mtns in southwest Jackson County and southeast Josephine County. Eight fires have been found so far, the largest of which is the 40-acre Old Blue Mountain Fire.

Here's the list of fires:
  • Sterling Creek, (T38S, R2W, Sec 20 NW, SE) 0.5 acre
  • Oregon Belle, (T38S, R3W, Sec 15) 0.1 acre
  • Dick George 989, (T40S, R7W, Sec 6, SE, SW) 0.01 acre
  • Ferris Gulch #1, (T38S, R4W, Sec 30, SE, NW) 0.1 acre
  • Ferris Gulch #2, (T38S, R5W, Sec 25, SE, NE) 1 acre
  • Grays Creek, (T37S, R4W, Sec 34, NE, NW) 0.1 acre
  • Little Sugar Loaf, (T39S, R5W, Sec 33, SE, SE) 0.75 acre
  • Old Blue Mountain, (T37S, R4W, Sec 34, NE, NW) 40 60 acres
The only fire not contained and in some stage of mop-up is the Old Blue Mountain Fire.

Reconnaissance flights take off at 8:00 a.m. to search for holdover fires.

Monday, August 18, 2014

August 18 Evening Lightning Map Update

Continued scattered lightning has occurred into the evening of August 18. For the latest lightning maps please visit the SWO Fire Data website.

Lightning Starts Several Fires on SW Oregon District

[ Updated 9:10 p.m ] Old Blue Mtn Fire is 40 acres. Crews are building fire line tonight. Crews for day shift Tuesday have been ordered. 

A late-afternoon series of thunderstorms started several fires in the Applgate and Williams creeks' drainages. The largest is a 20-acre fire on Old Blue Mtn, approximately 8 miles south of the city of Rogue River. Air tankers, helicopters, and engines are working to contain the blaze.

Two fires, each less than 0.25-acre, are in the Forest Creek and Sterling Creek areas. Other fires have been staffed in the Grayback Mtn and Williams Creek areas in southeastern Josephine County. 

Red Flag Warning for Lighting in SW Oregon

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for lightning across much of southwest Oregon. The target area extends from the Siskiyou Mountains to the Cascade Range. One smoke was been reported at 5:19 p.m. on Grayback Mtn. near Williams in Josephine County. The Red Flag Warning is in effect until 11:00 p.m.

IFPL 2 Takes Effect Today

Loggers and workers on other industrial operations in forests and wildlands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry in southwest Oregon can work a few extra hours starting today. Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) 2 took effect at 12:01 a.m. today.

There are no changes to public fire prevention regulations.

Under IFPL 2, the following restrictions now apply:
  • The use of fire in any form is prohibited;
  • Power saws must be shut down between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., except at loading sites;
  • Cable yarders must be shut down between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 pm.;
  • Blasting, welding and the cutting of metal must be shut down between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Additionally, commercial operations must have fire suppression equipment and watchman service on the job site.

August 18 Lightning Maps

Continued scattered lightning has occurred in our area. For the latest lightning maps please visit the SWO Fire Data website. Please note the KML file will include all lightning data from August 17 as well.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

August 17 Evening Lightning Update

A small amount of highly scattered lightning occurred tonight on the fringes of SWO District. A couple fires have been detected on adjacent federal lands around Lake of the Woods. Most of the storms came with rain. For the latest lightning maps please visit the SWO Fire Data website. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Unmanned Aircraft Threaten Firefighter Safety

BOISE, IDAHO -- Federal, state, and local wildfire managers are cautioning individuals and organizations that unauthorized operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), often referred to as “drones,” within or near wildfires threatens the safety of both aerial and ground firefighters and hampers their ability to protect lives, property, and valuable natural and cultural resources.

Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) are typically put in place during wildfires that require most aircraft, manned or unmanned, other than those engaged in wildfire suppression operations to obtain permission from fire managers to enter specified airspace.  The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of the Interior and other wildland fire management agencies consider UAS, including those used by hobbyists and recreationists, to be aircraft and therefore subject to TFRs.  This year, there have been at least three instances of a UAS being flown within or near a wildfire TFR without appropriate authorization.

Regardless of whether a TFR is implemented, individuals and organizations should not fly UAS over wildfires without prior permission from fire managers.  Unauthorized UAS flights could cause serious injury or death to firefighters on the ground.  They could also have midair collisions with airtankers, helicopters, and other aircraft engaged in wildfire suppression missions.

“We understand and appreciate the interest of UAS pilots in obtaining video and other data by flying over wildfires,” said Aitor Bidaburu, Chair of the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group (NMAC) at the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho.  “It would be a real tragedy if a UAS pilot were to cause an accident that resulted in serious injuries or deaths of firefighters.”

Unauthorized UAS flights within or near wildfires could lead fire managers to suspend aerial wildfire suppression efforts until the UAS has left the TFR airspace and they are confident it won’t return.  This could decrease the effectiveness of wildfire suppression operations, allowing wildfires to grow larger, and in some cases, unduly threaten lives and property.

UAS operations by individuals and organizations must be authorized by the FAA or comply with the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Section 336 of P.L. 112-95). Information is available online at www.faa.gov/uas.  Individuals who are determined to have interfered with wildfire suppression efforts may be subject to civil penalties and potentially criminal prosecution.

Alaska Crews Join Firefight in N. Calif.

(Fairbanks, AK) – The Alaska Interagency Coordination Center (AICC) has received a request for a third jet load of Alaska Type 2 Emergency Firefighter (EFF) crews. They are scheduled to depart Ladd Field at Fort Wainwright on Friday, Aug. 15, for assignments in northern California. The crews have 20 firefighters each for a total of 100 crew members. Leaving on this flight from the Alaska Fire Service are Tanana, Ruby, Huslia #2 and Stebbins #2. Representing the Division of Forestry is the Chevak #2 crew.

Aug. 9 was the first mobilization of Alaska EFF crews when the first 100 crew members departed for assignments in California’s Klamath National Forest. The second plane load also delivered 100 crew members to northern California. The crews that previously departed from Alaska Fire Service are Kaltag #1, Fort Yukon #1, Venetie #2, Koyukuk, St. Michael, Mt. Village Selawick #2 and Pilot Station. The Alaska Division of Forestry sent the Delta #2 and Upper Tanana #1 crews
Resources are being maintained in Alaska for response to fires within the state.

Rogue River Drive Roadblocks Removed

The 492-acre Rogue River Drive Fire is 50 percent contained and 344 firefighters are assigned to mop up hot spots today.
Crews and equipment assigned to the fire include:
  • 14 20-person crews
  • 15 engines
  • 9 water tenders
  • 3 bulldozers
The firefighters’ primary objective is to mop up (totally extinguish) hot spots within 250 feet of the fire line.

All evacuation alerts were lifted early yesterday, and the road closure on Rogue River Drive was removed today. Travelers on Rogue River Drive are cautioned to drive slowly and with care; water tenders, wildland fire engines and crews are using the road to move between a staging area at Takelma County Park and access roads to the fire.

Boaters may use the boat ramp at Takelma County Park, but be patient to launch because water tenders are filling from that site.

All members of the public are discouraged against driving up access roads to the fire. The roads are narrow and rugged, and big trucks will be going back and forth on these roads all day and all night.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Evacuation Alert Lifted in Rogue River Drive Area

[ Update 10:45 a.m. ] The size of the Rogue River Drive Fire has been revised to 492 acres.

The Level 1 evacuation alert for residences near to the Rogue River Drive Fire was removed this morning. However, the roadblocks on Rogue River Drive remain in place today due to heavy equipment traffic on the road. Water tenders are lumbering between the boat ramp at Takelma County Park and access roads to the fire, and bulldozers are being loaded (or unloaded) along the edge of the road. Traffic in the area is restricted to local residents and fire personnel.

The Rogue River Drive Fire is 45 percent contained and firefighters are mopping up hot spots within 250 feet of the fire line.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

August 13 Lightning Maps

More scattered lightning occurred in the early hours of August 13. Showers and rain came with the storms over most of the area. Please visit the SWO Fire Data website for the latest maps.

Fire Line Complete on Rogue River a Drive Fire

Bulldozers completed a fire line today around the 584-acre Rogue River Drive Fire, south of Shady Cove, and more than 200 firefighters assigned to the fire are rolling out hoses so hot spots can be quickly extinguished.

Equipment assigned to the fire includes 11 engines, 10 bulldozers and 6 water tenders. The fire is 40 percent contained. 

The lightning-caused fire broke out Monday, was encircled by fire line early Tuesday, then breached its containment line that afternoon and grew to its present size.

Structural firefighters called to the area overnight to assist with home protection were released mid-afternoon today. 

Rogue River Drive Blaze Tops 600 Acres

The Rogue River Drive Fire is approximately 600-700 acres this morning. Two hundred firefighter are working day and night shifts to reestablish a fire line and protect structures. The Oregon State Fire Marshal's Red Team is assisting local structural fire protection districts with defending homes against the wildfire, which broke out late Monday south of Shady Cove. A fire camp is set up at TouVelle State Park. Eight helicopters and air tankers are available for fire suppression assistance, if necessary. 

Rogue River Drive Fire Map

Favorable weather has helped overnight operations on the Rogue River Drive Fire. A preliminary map has been posted to the SWO Fire Data map page under 2014 SWO Fire Perimeters. There are also links to other fires in the region as well.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

August 12 Evening Lightning Map Update

Scattered lightning continues across SWO District. Many fires have been reported and recon flights will continue in the future. Please visit the SWO Fire Data website for the latest lightning maps.

Monday, August 11, 2014

August 11 Evening Lightning Map Update

Scattered lighting has come across all of southern Oregon. As a result numerous fires have been reported and at least one fire has exceeded 10 acres (Rogue River Drive). Reconnaissance flights will continue tomorrow all day and the red flag stays in effect till the afternoon of Tuesday August 12. For the latest lightning maps please visit the SWO Fire Data website.

August 11 Pocket Card

Continued hot and dry weather will persist over the area with a red flag warning for lightning and dry fuels conditions. SWO will continue in extreme fire danger and IFPL 3. For the latest pocket card please visit SWO Fire Data.