Saturday, June 13, 2015

Buckskin Fire Grows to 1,200 Acres

High temperatures, low humidity, and gusty winds have driven the Buckskin Fire near Cave Junction to 1,200 acres. A Red Flag Warning remains in effect.

Firefighters are working to suppress the blaze that is actively burning and clearly visible from the town of Cave Junction. The fire behavior exhibited moderate runs to the southwest and into the old burn scar of the 2002 Biscuit Fire.

The terrain is extremely steep and crowded with leftover snags (standing dead trees) from the Biscuit Fire, making it extremely hazardous for fire personnel. Incident personnel are currently analyzing options for conducting indirect fire suppression.

There are 145 personnel assigned to the incident and a Type 2 Incident Management Team will take command on June 13 at 6:00 a.m. The incident commander will be Doug Johnson. Five interagency hotshot crews, two Type 2 hand crews, and four aircraft are currently assigned to the incident.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Fire Danger Also Rises in Wild & Scenic Section of Rogue River

The fire danger level will increase to “high” (yellow) on Saturday, June 13, 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.

Starting Saturday, June 13, the following fire prevention restriction takes effect and is in addition to the restrictions currently in effect in the Wild and Scenic section of the Rogue River. It applies to open fires:

  • Campfires, including cooking fires and warming fires, will be prohibited. Charcoal fires for cooking and built in raised fire pans, and portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels, will be allowed on sand or gravel bars that lie between water and high water marks that are free of vegetation. Ashes must be hauled out.

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

Fire Danger Rises to High Tomorrow on ODF-Protected Lands

The fire danger level on Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands in Jackson and Josephine counties will increase to “high” (yellow) on Saturday, June 13. The Industrial Fire Precaution Level will remain at level 1 (one).

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.

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.
Starting Saturday at 12:01 a.m., the following regulations will go into effect:
  • Campfires will be allowed only in designated campgrounds. Portable stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels may be used in other locations;
  • Motorized vehicles will be allowed only on improved roads;
  • Chain saws may not be used between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. During other hours, 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 will not be allowed between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. This restriction does not include mowing of green lawns, or equipment used for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops;
  • The cutting, grinding or welding of metal will not be allowed between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. These activities will be allowed during other hours provided the work site is cleared of potentially flammable vegetation and other materials, and a water supply is at the job site;
  • Smoking while traveling will be 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.

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

Fire Activity Update from the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

Ground and aerial firefighting resources continue to gear up to meet the increased fire activity in Southern Oregon. No structures are threatened by any of the active fires. Additional aerial resources are being ordered to support suppression efforts; air resources are currently operating out of the Merlin Helibase. An Incident Management Team is being ordered to manage the Buckskin Fire.



Wild Rivers Ranger District Fires

The Buckskin Fire (see photo), located in Curry county, approximately one mile SE of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and six miles north of the California border, is approximately 100 acres in size. Due to safety issues with fire behavior, terrain, weather and many snags from the Biscuit Fire scar, hand crews did not engage on the fire yesterday evening. Aircraft water delivery was not effective due to winds.

Today, the Rogue River, Wolf Creek, Winema, Redmond and Prineville Hotshots, all 20-person highly trained initial attack crews, will be assigned to the Buckskin Fire. Two heavy helicopters are assigned to the fire and one air tanker is available at the Medford Airtanker Base. Two additional heavy helicopters and two medium helicopters with “helitack” support crews have been ordered. The Buckskin Fire is located approximately 10 miles SW of Cave Junction.

The Red Dog Fire located five miles SW of Onion Mountain on the Wild Rivers Ranger District, is 100% contained and mopped up and in patrol status.

Fire #367 (Little Onion) Fire is located two miles SE of Galice in Josephine County on the Wild Rivers Ranger District. The fire is currently four acres in size with a hand line completed around the perimeter of the fire. The fire is still active with a 20-person initial attack hand crew and miscellaneous overhead assigned.

Gold Beach Ranger District

The “Tom Fry” Fire (#355), located two miles SW of Agness, is four acres in size. The retardant line held yesterday and firefighters have completed containment line. Steep, rugged, and remote terrain, coupled with heavy fuel loading, is requiring an extended mop-up effort.

Fire #346 is located near Hog Mountain. The fire is 2 acres in size and firefighters have completed a line around it. Fire is in patrol status with one engine assigned.

#372 Miller Fire is 3.5 acres in size and is active but has not grown is size. Two engines, patrol unit, and 20-person initial attack hand crew are assigned. The fire is located near Elko Camp in the Hunter Creek area, is not threatening any structures, and is proximal to but not threatening South Coast Timber lands.

The North Smith Fire near Packsaddle Mountain is currently two acres in size. It is located near the SW corner of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness boundary. Four helitack crew members (Lakeview), and a Forest Service engine are assigned. This fire is contained and mop up efforts continue.

High Cascades Ranger District

Fire #362 (Cowboy Fire) is located one mile E of Robinson Butte on the High Cascade Ranger District. This fire is 1/10 of an acre in size and is contained, controlled and in patrol status.

For current recorded fire regulations, precautions, Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL), and closure information 24 hours a day, call 800-267-3126

For additional fire and weather information, go to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/rogue-siskiyou or the Medford Interagency Dispatch Center at http://ormic.org/ or follow us on Twitter @RRSNF and the Oregon Department of Forestry’s blog swofire.com

Thursday, June 11, 2015

New Fire Starts Near Kalmiopsis Wilderness

Firefighting resources are responding to the “Buckskin” Fire, located approximately six miles north of the California border approximately one mile outside the Kalmiopsis Wilderness on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

Airtanker 161 is dropping water on the estimated 50-75 acre blaze which is actively burning and clearly visible from the town of Cave Junction. 

Members of the Siskiyou Rappel crew are on the ground on-scene and more rappellers are en route. Helicopters are also en route/on scene, as are smokejumpers from Redmond. Two hotshot crews currently assigned to other incidents on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest are being reassigned to the Buckskin Fire to help battle the blaze.

Firefighters Respond to News Starts on Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

Firefighting crews and aerial resources continue to work on mop up efforts on several fires across the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, in addition to responding to new starts on the Gold Beach Ranger District. Weather will be continued hot and dry conditions over the weekend with a slight chance of thunderstorms and no precipitation in the forecast for the next week.

Gold Beach Ranger District

The “Tom Fry” Fire (#355), located two miles SW of Agness, is four acres in size. The retardant line held yesterday and firefighters have completed containment line. Steep, rugged, and remote terrain, coupled with heavy fuel loading, is impacting mop up efforts.

Fire #346 is located near Hog Mountain. The fire is 2 acres in size and firefighters have completed a line around it. Fire is in patrol status with one engine assigned. 

New Starts

#372 Miller Fire, called in this morning, is reported to be 3.5 acres in size. One Forest Service engine, patrol unit, and 20-person initial attack hand crew are responding, in addition to Coos Forest Protection Association resources. The fire is located near Elko Camp in the Hunter Creek area, is not threatening any structures, and is proximal to but not threatening South Coast Timber lands. 

The North Smith Fire near Packsaddle Mountain is currently two acres in size. It is located near the SW corner of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness boundary. Four helitack crew members (Lakeview), a Forest engine and a 20-person initial attack hand crew is assigned. 

Wild Rivers Ranger District

The Red Dog Fire located five miles SW of Onion Mountain on the Wild Rivers Ranger District, is 100% contained and mopped up. An assigned 20-person hand crew is pulling hose off the line today. After today, the fire will be in patrol status. 

Fire #367 (Little Onion) Fire is located two miles SE of Galice in Josephine County on the Wild Rivers Ranger District. The fire is currently four acres in size with a hand line completed around the perimeter of the fire. Assigned resources include the Rogue River Interagency Hotshot Crew, the Prineville Hotshots, 3 rappelers, and an 8-person hand crew. Challenges include rolling material and competition with other incidents on forest for helicopter water bucket support.

High Cascades Ranger District

Fire #362 (Cowboy Fire) is located one mile E of Robinson Butte on the High Cascade Ranger District. This fire is 1/10 of an acre in size and is contained, controlled and in patrol status.

For current recorded fire regulations, precautions, Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL), and closure information 24 hours a day, call 800-267-3126.

For additional fire and weather information, go to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/rogue-siskiyou or the Medford Interagency Dispatch Center at http://ormic.org/ or follow us on Twitter @RRSNF.

ODF Crews Battle New Fires Wednesday and Continue to Mop Up Old Ones

ODF engine crews from the Grants Pass Unit brought a halt to an 8-acre wildfire Wednesday afternoon along the edge of Interstate 5 near Milepost 68. Structural fire protection engines from Rural-Metro Fire Dept. pitched in with protecting homes and battling the wildfire. Traffic in I-5's southbound lane crept past single-file as two helicopters, a bulldozer and numerous firefighters worked to bring the blaze under control. Crews remained on-scene until midnight, and have returned this morning to complete mop-up operations on the fire.

No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is being investigated.

ODF Medford Unit firefighters continue to mop up the 46-acre Rosebud Fire and the 9-acre Little Butte Creek Fire, both of which were caused by lightning from thunderstorms on Tuesday morning. The other fires caused by the storm have been extinguished or continue to be mopped up, and crews will be checking all of the fires today.

Late Wednesday, a holdover lightning-caused fire was discovered on 9 Mile Peak, south of Ruch in the Applegate drainage. Firefighters from the ODF's Medford Unit, with the aid of a helicopter, controlled the fire at 1/4 acre.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

ODF Southwest Oregon District Evening Fire Update

The thunderstorms early this morning started 16 fires on ODF’s Medford Unit and 5 fires on the Grants Pass Unit. The largest fires are:
  • Rosebud, approx. 15 acres
  • Left Fork Foots Creek, 5 acres
  • South Fork Little Butte Creek, 4 acres
  • Jump Off Joe Creek, 2 acres
  • Wards Creek, 1 acre
The rest of the fires are 1 acre in size or smaller; most are smaller than 1/10th of an acre. The Rosebud Fire (photo below), located 5 miles south of Pinehurst in the Soda Mountain Wilderness, has had helicopters dropping water on it for most of the afternoon, and crews are working their way in by foot and by helicopter shuttle. No engine access. 

The Left Fork Foots Creek Fire is burning in heavy fuel and helicopters have been dropping buckets of water onto hot spots for much of the afternoon. A bulldozer has been constructing fire line.

The South Fork Little Butte Creek Fire is also a walk-in fire, and helicopters with buckets have been supporting firefighters on the ground.

All of the fires 1 acre in size and smaller have been lined and the fires 1/10th of an acre and smaller have been 100 percent mopped up.

A reconnaissance plane has been flying the district all day and another flight is planned for Wednesday.


Evening Fire Update from the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

Firefighting resources have responded to a number of new lightning-caused fires across the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest today, and additional resources have been ordered to assist with continued response to new starts.

On the Gold Beach Ranger District, the “Tom Fry” Fire (#355), two initial attack crews initially responded to this fire. The fire has grown to 4 acres in size and short range spotting is occurring. A heavy helicopter and air tanker are currently assisting with firefighting efforts on the ground. A Forest Service engine, rappellers and Coos Forest Protective Association resources responded to Fire #346, located near Hog Mountain. The fire is 1.5 acres in size and firefighters have completed a line around it.

On the Wild Rivers Ranger District (Grants Pass/Cave Junction), Fire #358, in the Limpy Creek area, a fire 1/10 acre in size has been completely lined. This fire was staffed by a crew, one engine and additional resources from Oregon Department of Forestry. 

The Red Dog Fire is expected to be 100% contained by end of shift this evening. The Winema Hotshots have been reassigned to the Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District in the Ashland/Applegate areas to support potential new starts.

Additional resources have been ordered to assist local firefighting resources with lightning-caused fire starts and have arrived on scene, or are en route:
  • Prospect/Butte Falls: One 20-person veterans’ crew and a strike team of engines
  • Gold Beach: Prineville Interagency Hotshots 
  • Grants Pass/Cave Junction: Wolf Creek Interagency Hotshots and one additional engine
  • Ashland/Applegate: Redmond Interagency Hotshots

More Fires Found on ODF-Protected Lands in SW Oregon

Sixteen lightning-caused fires have been found and staffed on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry's Southwest Oregon District. A dozen of the fires are on the Medford Unit and four on the Grants Pass Unit. Two of the fires were 1/2 acre in size and most of the others are 1/10th of an acre in size or smaller.

Firefighters and equipment are making their way into fires in the Jump Off Joe Creek area, north of Grants Pass; the Little Butte Creek area, east of White City; and in the Soda Mountain Wilderness, east of Ashland.

Three helicopters have been available to the firefighters for dropping water on hot spots. An airplane has also been flying all day, searching for smokes and assisting firefighters by providing fire location and access information.

June 9 Lightning Update

There has been little more lightning over southwest Oregon since this morning, mainly near Butte Falls. This will be the last update unless new lightning occurs. For the latest lightning maps please visit the SWOFireData.com website.

Fire Update from the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

Firefighting crews have made excellent progress suppressing the 12-acre Red Dog Fire, having created a strong containment line by late yesterday evening. A lightning-struck tree was identified as the cause of the fire. The fire is currently 50% contained and is expected to be fully contained at the end of shift this evening. Resources will continue to mop up the fire; if additional resources are needed for response to other priority incidents, crews may be reassigned. This includes the Rogue River Interagency Hotshot crew, the Winema Hotshots and a 20-person Grayback initial attack crew.

Last night, abundant dry lightning strikes occurred across SW Oregon with very little to no precipitation. In response, firefighting resources are pre-positioning for patrolling and response to new lightning-caused fire starts across the Rogue Rover-Siskiyou National Forest. A Red Flag Warning is in effect for abundant lightning activity through 11 p.m. tonight.

Increasing thunderstorm activity will create erratic fire behavior and new starts in Curry, Josephine, and Jackson Counties. Scattered thunderstorms this morning will start to diminish, then become scattered again this afternoon and evening. Gusty winds from 40-50 mph will be possible with the stronger thunderstorms. Some of the storms will produce moderate to heavy rainfall. Abundant lighting on existing very dry fuels could cause numerous fire ignitions. Gusty and erratic winds could also create explosive fire growth potential.

“We are aggressively pre-positioning our available firefighting resources for quick response to new fire starts,” said Dan Quinones, Deputy Fire Staff & Aviation Officer.

One new lightning-start has been detected on the Gold Beach Ranger District that is located on the border with Coos Forest Protection Lands. The new start is three miles SE of Three Tree Campground.

The Merlin Helibase has two medium helicopters, one rappel aircraft (John Day) and one helitack platform (Lakeview). Two fixed wing aircraft are available for aerial reconnaissance as of 0830 this morning. In addition, a heavy helicopter has been ordered from LaGrande.

In the Siskiyou Mountains, one engine is available for patrol and response. In addition, the Winema Hotshots are scheduled to be assigned to the area this afternoon after being released from the Red Dog Fire.

In the Prospect/Butte Falls area, in addition to the normal staffing of firefighting resources, a task force of engines and hand crews are pre-positioned for response. This includes 5 engines, one 20-person initial attack crew and several overhead leadership positions. Additional resources are being ordered.

In the Gold Beach area, a 15-person hand crew and engine is available for patrol/response, and in the Powers area, an engine and a prevention unit are also available, in addition to the increase air reconnaissance and air support that is being provided across the forest.

Firefighting resources will be moved and reassigned across the forest as new starts are detected and priorities change, utilizing information from lightning strike detection maps, aerial reconnaissance and smoke reports.

ODF Firefighters Track Down Lightning-Caused Fires

A widespread thunderstorm early this morning scattered lightning across Jackson and Josephine counties. ODF Medford Unit firefighters are working on five small fires in the Foots Creek and Galls Creek areas. The largest fire so far is 1/4-acre on Pikes Peak (T 37S, R 3W, Sec 6). ODF Grants Pass Unit engine crews are responding to reports of smoke in the Wards Creek, Cheney Creek, Birdseye Creek, Horesehead Creek and Fish Hatchery Road areas.

A reconnaissance flight is going aloft after 10:00 a.m. to detect other fires.

June 9 Lightning Map Update

The latest lightning maps have been posted to SWO Fire Data. There was widespread lightning last night across southern Oregon. There will be an afternoon update too.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Fire Season News and Notes

Power Equipment Use

Fire season in ODF's Southwest Oregon District went into effect Friday, June 5, at which time open burning season ended. However, many people have called to find out about restrictions on power-driven machinery use (ie chain saws, mowers, brush cutters, etc.). At this time, there are no restrictions on the use of power equipment, so it is OK to use equipment to cut brush, grass and trees.

But it is a good idea to take some precautions when using power-driven equipment.
  • Have water or a fire extinguisher and a shovel at your work site;
  • Frequently check the area you've worked in to make sure a spark hasn't kindled a small fire;
  • Continue to check your work area for at least one hour after you've shut down the equipment;
  • If you do accidentally cause a fire, call 9-1-1 to report the fire and then use your water and shovel to try and extinguish the fire.

Red Dog Fire



The Red Dog Fire (photo above) is located on the Wild Rivers Ranger District of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in Josephine County.  Fire activity is currently moderate, burning in brush, slash and timber in steep terrain. The fire is currently 10 acres in size, and started at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 6.

The Red Dog Fire is believed to be a lightning-caused start, possibly a “holdover” from a previous storm.  A Type 3 Incident Commander (Aaron Schuh) has been assigned.

“Due to the unseasonably hot and dry conditions, coupled with low humidity, we quickly assigned local available firefighting resources,” said Deputy Fire & Aviation Staff Officer Rob Budge.

Resources on scene include the Rogue River Interagency Hotshots, the Winema Hotshots, a 5-person hand crew module, two 20-person initial attack contract crews, two Forest Service engines, and two helicopters.  Firefighters have completed a “scratch line” around the fire and will continue to improve the line.  Crews are optimistic the line will hold, although lightning is predicted on Tuesday.

The fire is located approximately five miles SW of Onion Mountain, one mile W of Horse Mountain and two miles E of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness boundary and 9 miles NW of Selma.  Although there are mining claims in the area, no structures are threatened.

Due to the amount of fire traffic in the area, several road closures are anticipated to ensure firefighter and public safety.

Other Fire Activity in Southwest Oregon



A 7-acre fire broke out late Friday afternoon in the Abbott Prairie area (see photo), located 8 miles north of Lost Creek Reservoir. The fire is on private timberland and burned old logging slash. Today, a 10-man crew and two engines are mopping up remaining smokes. The cause is under investigation.

On Saturday, June 6, two fires caused by debris burning were extinguished in the Williams and Sunny Valley areas. The Williams-area fire burn 1/4 acre and the Sunny Valley-area fire burned 1/10th of an acre.

A structure fire near Rogue River on Sunday morning caused a 1/4-acre grass fire that was quickly extinguished. That same day, a 1 1/2-acre fire was extinguished along Pompadour Drive, east of Ashland. The cause of this fire in under investigation.


Pocketcard and Fire Statistics Update for June 8

A new pocketcard and fire statistics sheet has been posted to swofiredata.  There is an increased disturbance with lightning expected today and tomorrow. The storms will be relatively slow moving and wetting rain is likely in some areas. Due to the dry fuel conditions and threat of lightning a fire weather watch has been issued for the area.