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  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.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Beaver Complex Daily Update Aug 10

Last day for information posting out in the communities. Starting tomorrow, please visit us at Howard Prairie ICP or call us at 541-488-7726, or check Iniweb. We will continue daily updates for several more days via our email distributions and Inciweb. 

Thanks for all your help. I know you are also sharing our update with your counterparts and constituents.


Angie Johnson, Lead PIO
Beaver Complex Fire Information


Beaver Complex Fire Update

Oregon Department of Forestry Team 2- Chris Cline, Incident Commander

Fire Information number:  (541) 488-7726
Hours of operation: 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

August 10, 2014
9:00 a.m.                    

Special Message: 

Thunderstorms expected today in the area of the Oregon Gulch Fire pose a significant threat to safety.  If you see lightning and hear thunder following in less than 30 seconds, take shelter in a vehicle or building.  If you are outdoors, find a low spot away from tall trees and conductive objects.  Do not resume work in exposed areas until 30 minutes after the storm has passed. 

Current Situation (Oregon Gulch Fire): 
Dry lightning is predicted for today, creating a high potential for new fire starts in the area.  Fire managers directed crews today to stay vigilant on the primary mission of full containment of the Oregon Gulch Fire, while at the same time keeping an eye on the big picture and being ready to respond to any new fires which may start nearby.  Lightning safety plans are in place for fire crews on the line as well as personnel stationed at the Incident Command Post.

Good progress has been made on the mop up process and the fire perimeter is more secure each day.  Crews will be using thermal imaging equipment today to identify and extinguish hot spots within 500 feet of the edge of the fire.  Unstable weather, thunderstorms and fuel conditions create the potential for extreme fire behavior.

Weather and Fire Behavior: 
The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning starting at 11:00 am today, extending to 11:00 pm Tuesday.  Thunderstorms are expected to arrive in the fire area this afternoon bringing with them abundant dry lightning.  Any new fire starts may grow rapidly due to the dry fuel conditions.  There is a good potential for extreme fire behavior given the fire weather conditions.  Temperatures should be between 87 and 92 degrees with relative humidity between 13 and 18%.

Fire Statistics for Oregon Gulch

Location:  15 miles east of Ashland, OR                    Percent Contained: 64%                            

Size:  35,129 acres (9,464 acres in California)                          Cause:  Lightning                             

Start Date: 7/30/14                            

Oregon wildland resources assigned to the complex include: 48 Type 2 hand crews, 4 camp crews, 44 engines, 13 dozers, 29 water tenders, and overhead personnel. 

Air resources:  7 helicopters

Total personnel:  1458

Evacuation orders by county:

Jackson County
The evacuation level for residents from the 6,000 block south to the Oregon Border on Copco Road remains at a Level 1 Evacuation.  Access to Copco Road is limited to residents and emergency services only.  Residents living along Highway 66 in Jackson County between the 11,000 and 22,000 block are still under a Level 1 Evacuation.  This does not impact people living in Keno.  Level 1 Evacuation means “BE READY” for potential evacuation.  Residents should be aware of the danger that exists in their area, monitor emergency services websites and local media outlets for information. 

Klamath County
Current roadblocks remain at Road 106 (Camp 4) south from Highway 66.

For the complex, 270 homes and 50 outbuildings are threatened; 6 homes were destroyed.

Places to get information:

Twitter -

Southwest Oregon District Blog -

Smoke Information -

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office -

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