Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Measuring Wildfire Season in Gallons

So, just how severe was Oregon’s wildfire season this summer? About 838,000 gallons’ worth, according to Neal Laugle, the Department of Forestry’s (ODF) aviation unit manager. That’s how much liquid retardant the department’s air tankers dumped on fires in 2015. And that figure doesn’t include the thousands of gallons of straight water dropped by ODF contracted helicopters in close support of ground firefighting forces.

The window of opportunity in which to stop a new blaze from growing large has shrunk from days to hours, due to the extreme summer weather and forest fuel conditions. Fire managers with ODF and the fire associations increasingly rely on air power to even the odds, launching air and ground resources simultaneously, which often shaves response time to minutes.

ODF’s contracted large air tanker can reach a fire quickly and deliver 3,000 gallons of retardant in a single load. This slows fire growth and buys time for fire engines and hand crews to arrive on scene and begin direct attack. Single-engine air tankers (SEATs) use their speed and maneuverability to box in a fire with multiple, smaller retardant drops. All told, air tankers logged more than 700 flight hours this summer. The agency’s helicopters put in 834 hours slinging water to hot spots with their cable-suspended buckets.

Fire aviation snapshot

Statistics currently available are for ODF- and fire association-protected lands west of the Cascades. This summer, most of the aerial firefighting took place east of the Cascades (86 percent), followed by southern Oregon (14 percent), and northwestern Oregon (less than one percent).

  • In 2015, the Douglas Forest Protective Association in Douglas County flew 60 helicopter missions and also assisted ODF’s Southwest Oregon District and the Willamette National Forest. A small plane flew 55 missions that included fire detection, monitoring of existing fires, and guiding air operations (air tankers and helicopters) over fires.
  • The department’s Southwest Oregon District (Jackson and Josephine counties) conducted 150 missions, including air tanker and helicopter flights. Helicopters performed air attack, helitack (insertion of firefighters at fires, along with making water drops) and transport of personnel and cargo.
  • Coos Forest Protective Association logged 55 flight hours on 19 different fires in Coos and Douglas counties to quench the flames with water drops. In addition, CFPA aircraft flew reconnaissance during lightning events to detect new fires.

ODF’s aggressive firefighting tactics can create an “airshow” of multiple tankers and helicopters over an active fire. When the meter is running on all these aircraft, costs mount quickly. But stopping even one high-potential blaze from spreading to thousands of acres can save millions of dollars in the long term.

As an example, the 26,000-acre Stouts Creek Fire in Douglas County cost $37 million to extinguish. And that is just for suppression. Damage to the forest resource, which includes timber as well as fish and wildlife habitats, typically totals at least three times the firefighting expense.

No one can accurately predict the intensity of future fire seasons. But the current trend has the department, its partner resource agencies, and private forest landowners scrambling to meet the challenge. Aviation will undoubtedly continue to play a major role in Oregon’s fire protection system in the years to come.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Funding Available for Ashland-Area Landowners for Wildfire Mitigation and Forest Health Projects

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announces funding available to help private non-industrial forest landowners in the Ashland watershed reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire and improve the overall health of their forests.

Eligible landowners may receive payments from NRCS to implement forestry practices on their land, such as pre-commercial thinning, tree and shrub pruning, slash treatments and more. To be considered for the next round of funding, landowners are encouraged to submit applications by Jan. 15 by contacting the USDA Service Center in Central Point at 89 Alder Street, or by calling 541-664-1070. An additional application cut-off date is set for April 15.

The funding is provided by USDA’s Chiefs’ Joint Landscape Restoration Partnership, an initiative by the chiefs of two USDA agencies—the Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service—to improve the health and resilience of forest ecosystems across public and private boundaries in at-risk communities.

In 2015, NRCS awarded $1.1 million in funding to landowners in the Ashland area to perform pre-commercial thinning, slash treatment and other conservation practices on 1,213 acres of private forest lands. The Forest Service also invested $1.2 million to perform forest stand treatments on adjacent federal lands. The Joint Chiefs funding builds upon the Ashland Forest Resiliency Stewardship Project, an ongoing partnership launched in 2010 between the U.S. Forest Service, Lomakatsi Restoration Project, The Nature Conservancy, and The City of Ashland, and is supported by a number of other partners including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District.

“Jackson County consistently experiences one of the highest occurrences of wildfire in Oregon and has suffered devastating losses to quality of life, property, natural resources, and community infrastructure,” said Erin Kurtz, NRCS District Conservationist for Jackson County. “The Joint Chiefs funding allows us to expand current efforts in our community to reduce wildfire threats and restore ecosystem function in an all-lands approach.”

The Joint Chiefs funding—provided annually over three years—aims to implement fuels reduction activities on 4,200 acres of privately-owned forest land and 4,000 acres of Forest Service land. NRCS will continue to offer financial assistance to eligible private landowners through 2016 and 2017.

NRCS provides payments to landowners through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). This is a voluntary financial assistance program in the Farm Bill that allows NRCS to work directly with private landowners to develop conservation plans and reimburse landowners for a portion of the expense. View EQIP eligibility criteria on the Oregon EQIP webpage.

For more information about this and other NRCS financial assistance programs, visit the Oregon NRCS website at www.or.nrcs.usda.gov.

For more information about the Ashland Forest Resiliency Stewardship Project, visit the project’s website at: www.ashlandwatershed.org

Monday, December 7, 2015

Committee Looks at State's Future Wildfire Suppression Challenges

Oregon experienced a significant increase in wildfires over the past several years. Not only have these fires increased damages and costs to Oregon’s forests, landowners, and local communities but they have stretched the state’s “complete and coordinated fire protection system.”

Seeking ideas to address these challenges, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) initiated a Fire Program Review Committee. This committee is made up of forest landowners, wildland fire professionals, elected officials, the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s office and other stakeholders to advise ODF in its effort to develop and implement a more sustainable fire organization, including large fire funding solutions.

"This review is an effort to inform our long-term strategic view and facilitate improvement of this highly valued and functioning wildland fire protection system," said Kenneth Cummings, Vice Chair of the committee. The committee will focus its efforts on providing recommendations for the 2016 fire season as well as long-term goals for wildfire management and budget development.

The committee began its work Dec. 1 and formed three working groups to help support the committee’s efforts. The Fire Program Review Committee is scheduled to meet again on Jan. 21 to discuss the working group’s findings, refine key issues, capture additional ideas and provide further guidance. Interested parties are welcome to attend.

Additional information about the committee can be found online at: www.oregon.gov/ODF/Board/Pages/FireProgramReview.aspx.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Oregon's Coordinated Wildfire System Pays Dividends in 2015 Fire Season

In 2015, a witches’ brew of drought, hot weather and dry lightning spawned more than 2,000 wildfires across Oregon that consumed some 631,000 acres of forest and rangeland. In a massive coordinated effort, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and its local and federal partners fought back, stopping hundreds of new fire starts at small size and preventing many large blazes from growing into mega-fires.

The state’s wildland fire agencies have long recognized the need to work closely together. Oregon’s forest ownership pattern - a spider web of intermingled public and private lands - demands it. From that understanding developed the concept of a “complete and coordinated system” of fire protection. The U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, ODF and other wildland fire agencies seamlessly respond to wildfires. This approach reduces redundancy of fire suppression forces and provides more thorough coverage.

So, how did the system perform in 2015, the third severe fire season in as many years?

  • ODF Incident management teams deployed eight times to support large fire incidents across the state. These teams worked together with several federal, state and local partners to accomplish common goals.
  • Oregon National Guard supplied several helicopters and flight crews, other equipment and 375 personnel to form 18 fire hand crews.
  • Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office (OSFM) provided three structural fire teams to safeguard homes and other developments. This freed up ODF teams to concentrate on containing the wildfires.
  • Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) provided 330 inmates from 10 institutions to fight fire and support fire camp operations.
  • Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) displayed prevention messages and road-closure information on highway reader boards to inform travelers.
  • Personnel, equipment and aircraft came in from the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, 27 states and two Canadian Provinces.
  • The forest landowner community once again pulled together to assist by providing heavy equipment, skilled tree fellers and intermediate fire management.
  • Private contractors provided 20-person firefighting hand crews for 165 fires in five states, working more than 8,500 crew-days.

Ron Graham, deputy chief of ODF’s Forest Protection Division, said, “A majority of the help came from companies, agencies and individuals whose primary jobs and duties are not fire emergency-related. Through coordination and training, ODF was able to use their unique skills, abilities and knowledge to fill critical fire positions.”

He extended thanks to all ODF staff as well as the agency’s many partners in the complete and coordinated system, along with their families, and to all Oregonians for their contribution to the 2015 firefighting effort.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Winds Cause Several Wildfires on Saturday

Gusty winds on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 31, pushed several burning piles of debris into wildfires. The largest wildfire was the 55-acre Dunn Butte Fire, south of Ashland near Hwy 66. Other fires included:

  • A 12-acre fire near Cloverlawn Drive, between Grants Pass and Murphy;
  • An 11-acre fire in the Dark Hollow Rd area, south of Medford and west of Phoenix;
  • A 3-acre fire on Adams Road, west of Talent;
  • A 1-acre fire near Griffin Lane, south of Jacksonville;
  • A 1-acre fire along East Evans Creek Road, east of Wimer;
  • A 1/10th-acre fire on Tolman Creek Road, on the south end of Ashland.

Many structural fire protection agencies were involved, as well as resources from the Oregon Department of Forestry and CalFire. All of the fires were contained by nightfall and subsequent rain showers helped to quell the flames. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Fire Season Ends Today on ODF-Protected Lands

Rain has brought an end to fire season today on the Oregon Department of Forestry's Southwest Oregon District. All public regulated use and industrial fire prevention regulations have been terminated as of 7:00 a.m. today.

The fire danger level is "low" (green).

Monday, October 19, 2015

Rain Brings Fire Danger Down to Moderate

The fire danger level on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District dropped to “moderate” (blue) today due to rain. The Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) is 1 (one).

Fire season remains in effect but many fire prevention regulations have been removed.

It is now all right to have campfires outside of designated campgrounds, but it is necessary to get the landowner’s permission before camping on private land, and to always ensure a campfire is extinguished before leaving camp.

Power-driven machinery may be used without restriction.

Vehicles are not limited to being driven only on improved roads.

However, the following fire prevention regulations remain in effect:

  • No debris burning, whether in piles or burn barrels;
  • No shooting with tracer ammunition;
  • No exploding targets;
  • No fireworks.

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

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Decreases Public Use Restrictions in Most Forest Areas

At 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, October 17, campfire restrictions will be lifted for most lands administered by the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. While conditions are still dry, fire danger has decreased enough for Forest visitors to resume having campfires. Additionally, the Industrial Fire Precaution Level will decrease to a Level 1.

IFPL 1 (one) will also go into effect Oct. 17 on Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands in Jackson and Josephine counties.

Some Rogue River-Siskiyou NF fire restrictions on campfires remain in effect year-round: fires along the Illinois River Road are permitted only in Forest Service-constructed fire rings, and no camping or campfires are allowed in the Ashland Watershed.

Fire managers on the Rogue River-Siskiyou NF would like to remind the public that conditions across the forest continue to be dry, and the threat of wildfires will continue until significant rain arrives in the area. Please continue to be cautious with any activity that may ignite a wildfire. Always extinguish campfires completely, and only use campfires in areas void of flammable vegetation. Avoid driving and smoking in or near dry grasses and fuels.

The 2015 fire season provided significant firefighting challenges across the western United States. In order to meet future challenges in the most effective way possible, the U.S. Forest Service will continue to use prescribed burning as a tool to reduce build-up of hazardous fuels, restore forest ecosystems, and improve resiliency and safety of communities within the wildland urban interface. The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest would like our cooperators and public to know preparations are beginning for Fall prescribed burning.

Planned projects for this Fall include burning piles of stacked materials, and low-to-moderate intensity understory burns of vegetation on the forest floor. The primary goals of these projects are to reduce the severity of future wildfires, and to provide added protection for communities in the wildland urban interface. In addition, the burns will promote a diverse and more resilient forest, and improve habitat for wildlife. The burns will take place on all Ranger Districts, between now and late Spring of 2016. Specific dates of and location of ignitions will depend on local weather and fuel conditions.

All prescribed fire projects will be conducted in accordance with an approved burn plan to ensure the safety of people and property in the area. Burn plans describe the specific conditions under which burns will be conducted including the weather, number of personnel, and opportunities to minimize smoke impacts.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

ODF Firefighters Tackle Wildfire on Willits Ridge

[ Update 2:54 p.m.: Engine crews have knocked down the fire. One helicopter has been released from the fire and one engine from the U.S. Forest Service has been added to the suppression force. Lots of mop-up to do. ]

Oregon Department of Forestry Medford Unit firefighters are converging on a small wildfire reported this afternoon on Willits Ridge, 5 miles west of Prospect. Two helicopters, a bulldozer and five engines have been dispatched. The spotter in the first helicopter on-scene estimates the fire is approximately 1/2 acre and is burning in brush and other ground-level vegetation. The fire is on flat ground and is next to a road.

The fire was reported just before 2:00 p.m. A 5-person crew from ODF's Grants Pass Unit is also en route to the fire.

The legal description for the fire area is T 32S, R 2E, Sec 30.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Wildfire Burns Workshop, 10 Acres on Meadows Rd

A wildfire speeding through dry grass burned a large workshop and 10 acres of woodland this afternoon along Meadows Rd. Structural fire protection engines from Jackson County Fire District 3 and wildland fire engines, a bulldozer and three helicopters from the Oregon Department of Forestry kept the fire from causing more damage.

Crews were dispatched to the fire around 4:15 p.m. and had the wildfire contained by nightfall.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.












Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Take Care Not to Cause a Wildfire When Hunting



Hunting season kicks into high gear Saturday, Oct. 3, when centerfire rifles may be used in southwest Oregon for deer hunting. Hunters are cautioned to be careful with activities that could spark a wildfire. Oregon remains in one of the driest fire seasons on record, and many fire prevention regulations continue to be in effect.

Campfires are allowed only in state and county campgrounds. Always monitor a campfire while it is burning and completely extinguish the flames and all embers before leaving camp. Have a bucket of water and a shovel near to the fire pit.

Camp stoves using gasoline or propane fuels are allowed outside of campgrounds. Keep a fire extinguisher handy whenever a camp stove is being used. It’s also a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher inside of every vehicle. A 2½-lb A-B-C fire extinguisher is adequate for most camp kitchen and vehicle fire emergencies.

Smoking is never allowed while walking through the woods, or when riding on horseback, on a bicycle or on an ATV or motorcycle. Smoke only inside an enclosed vehicle and use an ashtray or other fire-safe container.

Never drive motorized vehicles off improved roads. An improved road has adequate width for a four-wheeled car or truck, and has fire-resistant surface comprised of gravel or asphalt. An unimproved road typically has vegetation growing in the median or other parts of the driving surface, and has brush and tree branches hanging over the roadway. If branches scrape along the side of a vehicle, or grass is flattened by a vehicle when driving over it, then the road is unimproved and shouldn’t be driven.

Motorcycles and other motorized all-terrain vehicles are not allowed on trails.

Chain saws, generators and other equipment using an internal combustion engine must be shut down by 1:00 p.m. Have a water supply and fire-fighting tools, such as a shovel and an axe, at the site where the equipment is being used. Perform a one-hour fire watch after the equipment is shut down.

Target shooting has become a significant cause of wildfires. Tracer ammunition and exploding targets are banned in all wildland and forested areas. Target shooting with conventional ammunition and targets is allowed, but use care not to create sparks with metal-on-metal contact. Remove brass and other debris when finished with target shooting.

Many private forestlands remain closed due to the high fire danger. A complete list of land closures is available online.

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, September 25, 2015

Seven Gypsy Moths Trapped in Grants Pass Area

After six straight years of single digit detections, the Oregon Department of Agriculture has trapped 14 gypsy moths this summer including two Asian gypsy moths in the Portland area. The results signal an increased concern of the threat posed by the plant-eating invasive species and has prompted an evaluation of next steps to deal with the insect pest.

“This is an exceptionally destructive insect that would change the health of our forests, making them far more vulnerable to other invasive plant issues, causing a loss of foliage on trees as well as damaging agricultural-related industries that would face quarantines should the gypsy moth get established,” says Clint Burfitt, manager of ODA’s Insect Pest Prevention and Management Program.

[ See ODA's Gypsy Moth Fact Sheet. ]

After placing approximately 15,000 traps statewide this spring, ODA has found seven gypsy moths near Grants Pass in Josephine County, five in the greater Portland area, one in Forest Grove in Washington County, and one in West Linn in Clackamas County. Two of the moths were trapped in or near Portland’s Forest Park, another two in the St. Johns area and the Port of Portland’s Terminal 6. Perhaps most significant is the detection of Asian gypsy moth– one in Forest Park, the other near St. Johns. The other 12 moths are the more common European strain of the insect.

Asian gypsy moth is potentially a much more dangerous insect. Unlike its European cousin, the female Asian gypsy moth has the ability to fly, which could lead to a more rapid infestation and subsequent spread. The Asian gypsy moth also has a larger appetite for what grows in Oregon, including a taste for conifers. There have been just three Asian gypsy moths detected in Oregon prior to this year– a single catch in North Portland in 1991, one caught in Portland’s Forest Park in 2000, and one caught in St. Helens in 2006.

It’s notable that two of the three Asian gypsy moths trapped in Oregon were relatively in the same locations as this year’s detections. Additionally, an Asian gypsy moth has been trapped across the Columbia River near the Port of Vancouver in Washington.

The detections of Asian gypsy moth are not completely surprising since the insect pest was ultimately transported by ships arriving from Asia, particularly Russia.

“We can speculate that the moths likely came from Far East Russia as thousands of steel plates are imported from areas across the Pacific that are infested with Asian gypsy moth,” says Burfitt.

Patrols from US Customs and Border Protection as well as US Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have worked with shipping companies to inspect vessels before they arrive in Oregon and elsewhere around the country, but the chances of intercepting every potentially viable gypsy moth egg mass are challenging. It is likely that the adult moths trapped this year in the Portland Vancouver area originated from one of those egg masses.

“We are receiving an increased number of shipments into our ports from Russia, Korea, China, and Japan,” says Burfitt. “Those Asian ports are well lit and near forested areas. The Asian gypsy moths are attracted to the lights. Female moths fly onto the ships, then lay their eggs on containers and commodities. Based on the high population of moths at these Asian ports and the egg masses that have been recovered from the ships the past couple of years, there is a heightened alert nationally to be on the lookout for Asian gypsy moth.”

Oregonians have more experience with the European gypsy moth, which is usually introduced when new residents or travelers from areas of high gypsy moth populations in the eastern US unwittingly bring the pest with them on outdoor household furniture or other items that may harbor gypsy moth eggs.

For the third straight year, ODA has trapped European gypsy moths near Grants Pass and the seven detected this year are further proof of a breeding population in the area.

Now that nearly all of the 15,000 gypsy moth traps have been checked and removed for the year, ODA and its partners are examining the data while considering the best course of action. While no plans have been determined yet, there is the possibility of gypsy moth eradication projects next spring in Josephine County and North Portland. This year, the State of Washington has caught Asian gypsy moths as well, incuding the one in Vancouver.

A USDA technical working group will be offering recommendations to both states on the next steps, which may include spray projects in spring 2016 using Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (Btk)– an organically approved product and natural-occurring bacterium that targets the gypsy moth.

For many years, spraying for gypsy moth was an annual event in Oregon, but the most recent eradication project took place in 2009. Oregon’s gypsy moth history shows the cyclical nature of the insect. Prior to this year’s 14 detections, there were just four detections in 2014, two moths caught in 2013, one moth in 2012, and no detections in 2011. By contrast, more than 19,000 gypsy moths were trapped in Lane County alone in the mid-1980s. Despite the lack of moths up until this year, the threat of new introductions to Oregon is constant on an annual basis.

So far, Oregon has avoided the unsavory prospect of having to learn to live with the gypsy moth. That’s why the just-completed detection program continues to be an important tool in fighting off an unwanted invader.

“History shows that we have a very good program that finds gypsy moth populations while they are small and treatable,” says Helmuth Rogg, ODA’s Director of Plant Programs. “We have a track record of eradicating small pockets of gypsy moth in Oregon as soon as we detect them. Without a good trapping program and a safe, effective eradication program, that would not be possible.”

As officials mull over the options and contemplate what needs to happen next, history shows that the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s emphasis on early detection and rapid response to the gypsy moth threat fits well with ODA’s mission to protect the state’s natural environment and economy from the impact of an invasive species that has caused havoc in other parts of the country and the world.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Prescribed Forest Burning: Counterpoint to Wildfire

Fire-weary Oregonians are like soldiers lately returned from the battlefield who duck at the sound of a car backfiring - a glimpse of smoke in the distance raises anxiety. But fall is when the counterpoint to wildfire emerges on the landscape: prescribed forest burning.

Many forest landowners are currently planning controlled burns to occur whenever wildfire danger subsides in their areas. These deliberate fires meet a twofold purpose:

  • Prepare logged sites for replanting of young trees
  • Reduce fuel loads to lower the risk of wildfires next summer

Unlike wildfires, which occur under the worst of conditions, prescribed burns are conducted only when weather and wind patterns are optimal to carry smoke up and away from communities and popular recreation sites. And forest operators and wildland fire agencies staff the sites with fire engines and personnel to prevent the burns from spreading outside of designated burn units.

The Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) meteorologists nail the forecast much of the time. But wind shifts occasionally push some smoke from prescribed burns into populated areas. However, most agree the tradeoff is well worth it. Some 200,000 acres of forestland undergo prescribed burn treatments annually in the state, and the resulting clean-up of logging debris and excess vegetation greatly reduces the risk of damaging wildfires on those lands during the summer.

The man who heads up ODF’s firefighting program believes that significantly expanding Oregon’s prescribed burning program would improve the wildfire situation.

“I’d like to see the 200,000 acres of annual prescribed burning double,” said Doug Grafe, chief of ODF’s Forest Protection Division. Three severe wildfire seasons in a row, 2013-15, have reinforced his fervor for forest fuel treatments via prescribed fire.

When a wildfire moves into a tree stand that has been previously thinned and excess shrubs and grasses removed, he said, the flames tend to stay on the forest floor. Wildland firefighters are able to attack a ground fire directly. But when a wildfire ignites in a stand where the trees are close together and brush is thick, it will likely move into the crowns and race through the stand. Direct attack is dangerous in this scenario, so fire managers must resort to air tankers and helicopters – effective, but costly tools.

The high intensity of a wildfire burning in a fuel-rich forest often does long-term damage, wiping out entire tree stands and in some instances sterilizing the soil. In contrast, a wildfire in a fire-treated forest typically leaves many of the trees alive.

Prescribed burning is already underway in some parts of Oregon, where the fall weather pattern of cooler temperatures and higher humidity has lowered the risk of a burn escaping control. But in many areas, ODF is holding off on issuing burning permits till the seasonal rains set in. For example, forest landowners in ODF’s Northeast Oregon District have some 10,000 acres of burn piles ready to light whenever they get the go-ahead from the department, likely in early November. The Klamath-Lake District says it will also wait till then before issuing burn permits.

More information about prescribed forest burning and smoke management can be found on the Department of Forestry website.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Fire Prevention Regulations Eased in Wild and Scenic Section of Rogue River

The fire danger level decreased to “high” (yellow) this week in the Wild and Scenic section of the Rogue River between Grave Creek and the mouth of Watson Creek. The Wild and Scenic section of the river between Grave Creek and Marial is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and protected from fire by the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District. The section of the river from Marial downstream to Watson Creek is managed and protected from fire by the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

The following fire prevention restrictions are currently in effect:

  • Smoking is prohibited while traveling, except in boats on the water, and on sand or gravel bars that lie between water and high water marks that are free of vegetation.
  • All travelers are required to carry one shovel and a one-gallon or larger bucket.
  • The use of fireworks is prohibited.
  • Campfires, including cooking fires and warming fires, are prohibited. However, charcoal fires for cooking and built in raised fire pans are allowed on sand or gravel bars that lie between water and high water marks that are free of vegetation. Ashes must be hauled out. Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels may also be used.

For further information about fire restrictions in the Wild and Scenic Section of the Rogue River, contact:

  • The Oregon Department of Forestry, Grants Pass Unit, (541) 474-3152;
  • The Smullin Visitor Center located at the Rand National Historic Site at (541) 479-3735.
  • The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fire Danger Level in SW Oregon Drops to High Today

The fire danger level on Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands in Jackson and Josephine counties has been lowered to “high” (yellow) today. The Industrial Fire Precaution Level has also been decreased to level 2 (two).

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.

Light rain and cooler temperatures across southwest Oregon have made it possible to ease off on some of the fire prevention regulations. However, very warm and dry weather is expected to return to the region by the weekend.

Restrictions on the public use of chain saws, brush cutters and other power-driven machinery have been relaxed a bit, allowing the use of equipment until 1:00 p.m. Before today, power-driven machinery had to be shut down by 10:00 a.m. Power-driven machinery use may resume after 8:00 p.m.

Other fire prevention regulations currently in effect, and which will remain in effect, include:

  • 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;
  • No sky lanterns may be used in wildland and forestland areas.
  • 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;
  • Chain saws may be used until 1:00 p.m. and after 8:00 p.m. Chain saw users must have an ax, a shovel and an 8-oz or larger fire extinguisher at the job site, and a fire watch is required for one hour after the saw is shut down;
  • Mowing of dead or dry grass with power-driven equipment is allowed until 1:00 p.m., and may resume after 8:00 p.m. This restriction does not apply to mowing green lawns, or to equipment used for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops;
  • The cutting, grinding or welding of metal are allowed until 1:00 p.m. and after 8:00 p.m. These activities may only take place at a site cleared of potentially flammable vegetation and other materials, and with a water supply at the job site;
  • 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.

In the Wild and Scenic Section of the Rogue River between Grave Creek and Marial, charcoal fires may now be used for cooking provided a raised pan is used and conducted only in an area free of vegetation and other flammable material. Ashes must be hauled out.

Under Industrial Fire Precaution Level II:

  • 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.

For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s public regulated use regulations, 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

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Will 1,000 More Acres Burn This Fall?

Don’t be fooled by the cool mornings and shorter days of September. Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) fire officials say that they average more than 200 fires that burn in excess of 1,000 acres across the state each fall. In fact, in the early fall of 2014, the 36 Pit, Yellow Point and Scoggins Creek fires combined burned about 6,500 acres. More than 90 percent of the fires are caused by people during this time of year. To date in 2015, about 900 fires have burned more than 93,500 acres on ODF protected lands.

“People are genuinely surprised when their thought-to-be safe actions result in a fire,” said ODF Fire Prevention Coordinator Tom Fields.

Fields says that fire season remains in effect and generally lasts well into October. Weather forecasts are calling for temperatures in the 90s throughout much of Oregon for the next several days. Open fires remain prohibited on lands protected by ODF including campfires outside of approved campgrounds and the burning of debris. Forest fuels are at their driest after an entire summer of limited rainfall. A season ending event of several days of substantial rainfall, usually well into the fall, will be needed to erase fire danger and lift restrictions.

Other activities restricted during fire season include off road driving where hot exhaust and sparks from mufflers can ignite dry grass; the use of tracer ammunition and exploding targets; and the use of power equipment such as chain saws and lawn mowers cutting dry grass. Check with your local ODF or fire protection association office for specific restrictions or log on to www.oregon.gov/odf. Violators will be cited and fined and, should a fire result, held liable for fire suppression costs.

While many corporate private lands remain closed due to the continued fire danger, hunting season is still open. Hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts must have landowner permission before entering and follow all public fire use restrictions listed above.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

September 4 Lightning Maps Now Available

There was localized lightning last night across Jackson/Josephine County. Patrols will continue throughout the day. Most of the lightning did come with scattered rain. For the latest lightning maps please visit swofiredata.com

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Collier Butte Fire: Final Update

Collier Butte Fire Current Situation:

  • Acres, 11,800
  • Containment, 55%
  • Personnel, 57
  • Crews, 2
  • Helicopters, 1
  • Engines, 3

This is the final Fire Update for the Collier Butte Fire. Tomorrow the Type 3 team will transition to a local Type 4 organization. This means the fire camp will be dismantled and assigned to another fire, remaining crews and equipment will be released to go home or reassigned, and the aviation resources have been moved to Grants Pass and made available for other Forest needs. If needed, helicopter support can be requested any time to support fire related activities. The local team will continue to monitor the fire by patrolling the fire lines and will regularly fly the perimeter to keep a birds-eye view on any remaining fire activity.

The Type 4 team will utilize remaining resources for any fire related restoration. This includes breaking down large berms created in the construction of dozer line, constructing water bars along fire lines, stabilizing any work done around streams or sensitive areas, and returning any remaining equipment to town.

Our recent rain wasn’t a fire season ending event, so it’s important to remain vigilant when travelling or recreating outdoors. Fire fighters would like to remind the public to watch out for fire equipment working in the area. Bow hunting season opened this past weekend, so you can anticipate additional traffic on forest roads. While we received 2.5 inches of rain over the weekend, other areas of the Forest received little to no rain, so extreme drought conditions still exist, creating very receptive fuels. Any spark or flame may ignite a wildfire, so please follow local fire restrictions and remain mindful of fire prevention.

An Emergency Area Closure remains in place on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. Please contact the Gold Beach RD for the latest update on all closure information.

For any fire related questions, comments or concerns please contact the Gold Beach Ranger District at (541)247-3600.

Monday, August 31, 2015

August 31 Fire Statistics and Pocketcard

This week will be cooler with a low pressure system keeping temperatures below normal. ERC values that spiked last week have dropped considerably and will begin to creep back up as we move into higher temps later in the week Even with showers our large fuels will continue to be cured and below threshold values. Fire activity on the ground will be kept in check with the cooler temperatures and increased humidity. Last week human activity caused all fires with equipment use being the leading cause. For the latest pocketcard and stats sheet please visit swofiredata.com

Saturday, August 29, 2015

ODF Eases Equipment Use Restrictions

A small amount of rain across Jackson and Josephine counties has reduced the wildfire danger to an equal degree. This morning, the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District eased the public regulated use fire prevention restrictions to allow power equipment use until 10:00 a.m.

The Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) remains at Level 3 (three) and the public regulated use fire danger level stays at “Extreme” (red).

The public may now use power-driven equipment, such as chain saws and brush cutters, in the cool morning hours until 10:00 a.m., at which time power-driven machinery must be shut down. Equipment use may resume after 8:00 p.m. This regulation change also applies to other power-driven, spark-emitting equipment, such as wood splitters and generators. In all cases, a fire extinguisher or water supply must be available at the work site, and a fire watch of at least one hour must take place after equipment is shut down.

The cutting, welding or grinding of metal must also shut down between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. and may only take place in an area cleared of vegetation and other flammable material. A water source must be at the job site and a one-hour fire watch must be conducted after shut down.

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 28, 2015

Wet Weekend Won't Wipe Out Fire Season



Rain and wind are coming to southwest Oregon this weekend, and so is the start of bow hunting season. Will the rain bring an end to fire season? No. Will it reduce the fire danger level? A little bit. Maybe.

Watch this space on Saturday for information about any changes to the fire danger level.

Meanwhile, hunters and other visitors to the woods this weekend are urged to pay attention to fire season regulations. Campfires are allowed only in campgrounds -- and all state-operated campgrounds have shut down campfires until the fire danger significantly lessens. Shooting tracer ammo or using exploding targets are never allowed in forests and other wildland areas during fire season. Vehicles are allowed only on improved roads, and smoking while traveling is allowed only inside of an enclosed vehicle.

For everyone else who live and work in wildland areas, the rain will not make it safe to burn debris piles or use burn barrels. 

Oregon is still in the grip of an extraordinarily dry summer. A little rain won't reverse the cumulative effects of three years of warmer-than-normal and drier-than-normal weather conditions.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Fifty-One Miles of Fireline Surrounds Stouts Creek Fire

Stouts Creek Fire Current Situation:

  • 26,452 acres
  • 86% contained
  • 158 residences threatened
  • Personnel:420
  • Helos: 4
  • Handcrews: 8
  • Engines: 12
  • Dozers: 2
  • Water Tenders: 5
  • Evacuations:. All areas remain at Evacuation Level 1 (Get Ready).

Crews have made excellent progress on strengthening the lines and holding the Stouts Creek Fire within the perimeter. To date, approximately 51 miles of fire line surround the fire. The fire size is at 26,452 acres (due to more accurate mapping) and is 86% contained.

The Stouts Creek Fire is now being managed by the Florida Forest Service (FFS) Type 3 Incident Management Team with Incident Commander, Mike Work. The team will continue to work with local agencies to contain the fire and protect the community.

“We will continue to carry on the good work of the teams before us” said Mike Work, IC Florida Incident Management Team, “We appreciate all the hard labor that brought us this far.”

Fire operations managers have secured the fire and are confident the fire line will hold. The threat to structures has decreased to the point that as of 7:00 a.m. on August 24, all evacuation levels were reduced to a Level 1 (Ready). Local residents should be aware of the danger that still exists in their area, monitor emergency services, websites and local media outlets for information.

To date, the Stout Creek Fire has cost $35.7 million. The Incident Management Team is protecting lands that are about 46% on state-protected lands, which include BLM and private lands, and 54% on the Umpqua National Forest.

Mop-up Continues on Collier Butte Fire

Collier Butte Fire Current Situation:
  • 11,100 acres
  • 55% Containment
  • 190 Personnel
  • 3 Crews
  • 2 Helicopters
  • 5 Water Tenders
  • 6 Engines

Management of the Collier Butte Fire has transitioned to a Type 3 organization. As of 6 am this morning, incident commander Monty Edwards has assumed command.

The Incident Command Post is located at the Gold Beach High School and the Information Center contact number remains 541-247-4447.

As mop-up continues along the primary containment lines, other personnel and equipment will carry on rehabilitating Forest roads and chipping the large piles of brush and slash created during development of alternate and contingency lines. Local resource advisors oversee the reparations in areas where active suppression is no longer needed. Installing waterbars and pulling berms back onto lines are examples of repair strategies; these actions allow the impacted areas to return to a more natural state by holding soil and vegetation in place.

The fire continues to slowly spread in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, but natural barriers with sparse vegetation are limiting fire growth to the east. This flank of the fire will be monitored by air and if necessary, helicopter water drops will be used to cool the fire’s edge.

Southern winds will continue to move smoke north from California wildfires toward the Oregon coast. Smoke may be visible along south coast communities and Agness for the remainder of the fire season. For information concerning smoke impacts, please visit the Oregon Smoke Information website.

The Emergency Area Closure remains in place on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. The temporary flight restriction over the fire area also remains in place.

Bow hunting season opens this weekend. Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts should use caution while recreating on private and public lands. Extreme drought conditions exist in southwest Oregon creating very receptive fuels. Any spark or flame may ignite a wildfire, so please follow local fire restrictions and remain mindful of fire prevention.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Evacuation Levels around Stouts Creek Fire Lowered to Level 1

Stouts Creek Fire Stats:

  • 26,452 acres
  • 86% contained
  • 158 residences threatened
  • Personnel: 521
  • Helos: 4
  • Handcrews: 8
  • Engines: 12
  • Dozers: 5
  • Water Tenders: 11
  • Evacuations: The Level 2 (Get Set) Evacuation Notice for Upper Cow Creek has been reduced to a Level 1. All areas remain at Evacuation Level 1 (Get Ready).

Crews have made excellent progress on strengthening the lines and holding the fire within the perimeter. To date, approximately 51 miles of fire line surround the fire. The fire size remains at 26,452 acres and is 86% contained.

“The fire line has been tested by heat but not by wind yet, there is still a lot of work left to do” said Douglas Forest Protection Association Agency Representative Dennis Sifford at this morning’s briefing.

The Stouts Creek Fire has been managed under unified command by Oregon Department of Forestry Team 2 Incident Commander Chris Cline and Forest Service Incident Commander Mike Wilde, since August 13. An in-coming Type 3 Team from Florida Forest Service (Work) arrived yesterday and will shadow the ODF Team 2 today and assume command at 6:00 p.m.

Fire operations managers have secured the fire and are confident the fire line will hold. The threat to structures has decreased to the point that as of 7:00 a.m. on August 24, all evacuation levels were reduced to a Level 1 (Ready). Local residents should be aware of the danger that still exists in their area, monitor emergency services, websites and local media outlets for information.

There are 521 personnel assigned to the fire with 8 crews, 12 engines, 11 water tenders, 5 bulldozers and four helicopters. To date, the Stout Creek Fire has cost $35.5 million. The Incident Management Team is protecting lands that are about 46% on state protected lands, which include BLM and private lands and 54% on the Umpqua National Forest.

Monday, August 24, 2015

August 24 Pocketcard and Fire Statistics Now Available

This week will be extremely hot and dry as we continue seasonably warm weather . ERC values spiked last week and will continue in the extreme category for the forecast period. We are beginning to reach critical lows of single digit fuel moisture. Fire activity on the ground has increased and extra resources have been required several times. Last week human activity caused all fires with equipment use being the leading cause. For the latest pocketcard and fire statistics please visit swofiredata.com  

Burnout Operations Continue on Collier Butte Fire

Current Situation: 9,600 acres
40% Containment
241 Personnel
3 Crews
2 Dozers
2 Helicopters
8 Water Tenders
8 Engines

Yesterday, crews finished burning along the south containment lines, creating a fuel break from the Big Craggies to the 1376 road system. Firefighters will secure the fire’s edge by extinguishing burning vegetation along the completed containment lines. A helicopter equipped with an aerial ignition device will add depth to the burnout by dropping small incendiary spheres to remove interior pockets of unburned fuel. Other helicopters will be available for waters drops to cool hot spots and limit fire growth.

Firefighters will continue to patrol and secure containment lines on the west flank. Chipping and brushing operations will progress north from FR 3318 to the Illinois River to remove fuel along this alternate line. Crews and equipment will repair damage from fire suppression activities on alternate lines that are no longer needed.

The fire continues to slowly spread to the east in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, but has not crossed the Illinois River. Natural barriers with sparse vegetation are limiting fire growth in that direction. Helicopters may also be utilized to slow the fire from spreading eastward.

Burnout operations play an important role in securing the southern containment line by preventing the fire from spread into Mislatnah Creek and the Chetco River watershed. Current water sources in the vicinity have been adequate to support the needs of the burnout. To date, there has been no water withdrawal from the Chetco River, and none are anticipated. If absolutely necessary, however, the following measures will be taken: (1) tenders will be filled before leaving Gold Beach, (2) fish screens will be used in coho critical habitat, (3) no helicopters will dip from the Chetco, and (4) no more than 12,000 gallons per day would be removed – an impact of 0.03% of the overall daily flow.

Steep terrain, an abundance of snags and the potential for the fire to re-burn previously burned areas presents challenges to firefighter safety. Smoke may be visible throughout the remainder of the fire season. For information on closures on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, please see the Facebook page or the Inciweb page listed above.
Businesses along the south coast and Rogue River remain open and welcome visitors.

Residents and visitors to Gold Beach, Brookings and nearby communities are encouraged to drive carefully as firefighter traffic has increased in the area. With extreme drought conditions in southwestern Oregon, the public is encouraged to use caution outdoors. Any type of spark or flame may ignite a wildfire. Please follow local fire restrictions and remain mindful of fire prevention.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Potlucks and Sparkplugs: Firewise Success Catches on in Upper Cow Creek

Residents of Upper Cow Creek Rd with IMT 2 Steve Bowen.
Southern Oregon is wildfire country. In the last five years about one-third of the 325,000-acre Tiller Ranger District has been blackened by wildfire. This year, the Stouts Creek Fire has already burned over 25,000 and was 82 percent contained on August 22, 2015. Locals here know about living with wildfire. They have learned that adapting to wildfire means getting to know your neighbors and that potlucks are the perfect place talk about being a fire-adapted community.

When the Stouts Creek Fire was threatening homes east of the community of Azalea, fire managers were pleased to learn that Milo, Tiller, and Upper Cow Creek Road were designated FireWise Communities. Being Firewise means homeowners have taken significant steps to make their homes defensible from a wildfire. After several years of hard work, 14 homes and several roads including Upper Cow Creek Rd have defensible space and have joined the dozen other recognized FireWise communities in Douglas County.

The maxim of many hands makes light work applies. Grant resources, program support and technical assistance came from the Douglas Forest Protective Association, the Umpqua National Forest, Douglas County Public Works, the Phoenix Charter School and others. At the grassroots level, neighbors did not just come together on their own. There was a spark, a catalyst, someone who overcame the inertia and fostered change. That person was Kathy Staley of Upper Cow Creek Rd.

Kathy Staley, community sparkplug.
“The Umpqua National Forest is part of our community,” said Kathy Staley. “Donna Owens, Tiller District Ranger, made it easy for us. We hold regular potlucks and Donna and her staff began attending. As we got to know one another we naturally broadened our circle of care to include those who work for the Forest Service,” she explained.

“Prior to these gatherings, the relationship with the Umpqua NF was often adversarial. It helped that Ranger Owens was willing to say the tough but honest things,” Staley said. “That built trust in the eyes of the community members.”

Clearly motivated, Kathy explained that her career as an engineering inspector gave her a sharp and critical eye.

“I saw a need,” she explained. “I’m relatively new to the community. We learned that there were grants available to help pay for removing the brush and small trees to make our homes safer from wildfire,” she said. The grant funds and other monies helped pay for road crews removing roadside brush.

“Red Apple Road used to be tight with brush,” explained Kathy Pack of Upper Cow Creek Road. “It made me nervous thinking about driving it during a wildfire. Getting the roads and houses cleared of brush out really gave me piece of mind,” she said.

Defensible space around the home of Jim and Kathy Pack.
Once the neighbors learned that they could meet their commitment by contributing their time, the idea spread like creamy peanut butter. Using the county’s road crew and students from the Phoenix Charter School, they were able conduct defensible space activities at more than a dozen homes—removing brush and small trees and pruning up the branches on larger trees to make the homes safer from wildfire.

“We’ve owned this piece of land for 30 years,” said Jim Pack. “I planted all the trees myself and each one has a name. This place is a dream come true for me. Making it safer from wildfire was just something we had to do. We have too much at stake to live with the risk of it burning.”

Just as local residents gave their time, staff from the Tiller Ranger District understood they had to do the same. “The relationship building just took time,” said Terry Brown, Fire Management Officer, Tiller Ranger District. “The relationships we have with the community are the most valuable results from this process.”

The Douglas Forest Protective Association formed the third leg of the FireWise stool. FireWise Coordinator Dennis Sifford advises communities on becoming FireWise.

“The program helps make homeowners aware of the risks and teaches them about the little things they can do to help their homes survive a wildfire,” said Dennis.

Wildfire is a frequent visitor to southern Oregon. Building resilience and adapting to wildfire depends on knowing your neighbors, widening the circle of care and finding the catalysts in the community who can make things happen. In these Firewise communities, these grass roots efforts have clearly paid off.

“When I learned that the residents of Upper Cow Creek Road were designated FireWise, I was more confident that we could protect the homes and that our firefighters would come home safely,” explained Steve Bowen, Structural Liason for the Stouts Creek Fire.

By: Stouts Creek Fire Information Team

Helpful Links:
http://www.dfpa.net
http://www.firewise.org
http://www.fs.usda.gov/umpqua

Friday, August 21, 2015

Stouts Creek Fire Crews Complete Burnout Projects

After three weeks of hard dangerous work, crews now have the Stouts Creek Fire fully encircled with a blackline—when the fire’s edge has burnt to a road or other fireline and is secure. Last night, fire crews completed burn out operations on the last piece of the 51-mile fire perimeter. Reaching this milestone has been the fire crews’ focus for the past week.

“I feel really good about where we are at,” said John Pellisier Operations Section Chief. “I was able to sleep easy last night knowing that we have this thing cinched up.”

While the mood at morning briefing was upbeat, fire managers reminded crews to be vigilant and stay focused on the work ahead. “Yes, we have a blackline around this fire. That’s great. And we still have lots of work to do,” said Incident Commander Chris Cline. “We need to stay focused and make sure our lines hold as the weather heats back up in coming days.”

The day shift will focus on burning interior patches of unburnt fuels near the southern tip of the fire. These operations will produce smoke for at least a couple more days. Once the burnout is secured, the evacuation level on Upper Cow Creek Road will be reduced. Until then, the evacuation levels remain unchanged.

A Level 2 Evacuation notice (Get Set) remains in place for residents on Upper Cow Creek Road east of Devils Flat to the end of the road. This precautionary measure is because of high temperatures and low humidities that might cause increased fire behavior. The Stouts Creek Fire has blackened 26,188 acres and is 80% contained and still has the potential for rapid growth. A contingency plan to protect structures on Upper Cow Creek is in place and will be activated if needed. Evacuation levels for all other areas remain at Level 1 (Get Ready).

The Stouts Creek Fire has been managed under unified command by Oregon Department of Forestry Team 2 Incident Commander Chris Cline and Forest Service Incident Commander Mike Wilde, since August 13.

There are 764 personnel assigned to the fire with 11 crews, 19 engines, 25 water tenders, 13 bulldozers and six helicopters. To date, the Stout Creek Fire has cost $33.3 million.

The Incident Management Team is protecting lands that are about 46% on state protected lands, which include BLM and private lands and 54% on the Umpqua National Forest.

Collier Butte Fire 30 Percent Contained

Location: Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, 18 miles east of Gold Beach
Incident Commander: Doug Johnson
Information Center: 541-247-4447
Inciweb: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4461Email: collierbuttefire@gmail.com
Facebook: U.S. Forest Service-Rogue River - Siskiyou National Forest
Oregon Smoke Information: http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/

The Curry County Fairgrounds in Gold Beach will host the Fair August 27-30 as planned. The Collier Butte Fire incident command post will be moving to the Gold Beach High School Saturday to make room for the Fair set-up.

Current Situation:
9,000 acres
30% Containment
415 Personnel
5 Crews
5 Dozers
2 Helicopters
8 Water Tenders
11 Engines

With firelines in place on the north, west and south flanks, firefighters will focus on securing containment lines by burning fuel along the fire’s edge and interior pockets within the fire perimeter. Burnout operations will also focus on the containment line between Big Craggies and the Collier Butte vicinities, and will begin only if favorable weather conditions exist. A helicopter equipped with an aerial ignition device is available to assist ground personnel by burning areas that are difficult to access.

Helicopters will shuttle crews into the Wilderness to assist in containing burnout operations. Portable water pumps and hoses remain in place to provide water support, and two heavy lift helicopters stationed in Agness will be available to drop water.

Crews and engines will continue mop up operations to extinguish burning and smoldering vegetation along the fire edge. Firefighters will improve secondary and contingency lines by falling hazard trees and removing excess fuels. These precautionary lines extend north from Forest Road 3318 to the Illinois River and south along Forest Road 1376 to the Chetco River. The fire continues spreading east into remote, inaccessible land in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, yet remains west of the Illinois River.

Nationally, the wildfire situation remains at a critical level. All available firefighting resources are being called upon to assist, resulting in a shortage of fire crews, helicopters and support personnel. Firefighters are being reassigned to more-critical incidents to protect lives, homes and infrastructure. On the Collier Butte Fire, managers are strategically positioning available resources to focus on holding and securing containment lines, and coordinating aircraft use with other fires in southwest Oregon.

Rugged, steep terrain and an abundance of snags present challenges to firefighter safety. Due to a shortage of firefighting resources and limited wilderness access, management of this wildfire is likely to continue for an extended period. Smoke from the fire may be visible at the times throughout the remainder of the fire season.

Businesses along the south coast and Rogue River remain open and welcome visitors. Residents and visitors to Gold Beach, Brookings and nearby communities are encouraged to drive carefully as firefighter traffic has increased in the area. The public is encouraged to use caution outdoors, as extreme drought conditions persist. Fuels are receptive to any type of spark or flame. For information on closures on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, please see the Facebook page or the Inciweb page listed above.