Saturday, June 27, 2015

Lightning Causes Four Fires on Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

Abundant lightning strikes Friday evening over the High Cascades Ranger District of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest resulted in four new fire starts. The Bessie Fire is currently estimated at 10-20 acres and is being attacked with air tankers, helicopters and hand crews. All other fires are currently reported at one acre or less in size. A variety of different firefighting resources, including engines, hand crews, smokejumpers, rapellers and helicopters are either on site or en route to each of the fires.

No lightning-caused fires have been found on forestlands protected by the Oregon Dept. of Forestry.

Fire lookouts and aerial reconnaissance flights will continue to look for any additional smokes.

A Red Flag Warning for lightning and dry fuels remains in effect throughout the region into Sunday.

Fire managers are encouraging the public to be extremely fire aware over the course of the weekend. Unattended campfires, careless disposal of smoking materials and the use of any spark emitting apparatus could result in a rapidly growing wildfire.

“We need the public’s help to limit human caused fires given the potential for many starts due to lightning over the next few days,” reminds Eric Hensel, Fire Staff Officer for the Rogue River-Siskiyou NF. “Both the National Forest and State protected lands have fire restrictions in place for good reason. I encourage the public to become familiar with and abide by them for their own safety, the safety of our firefighters and the protection of our natural resources.”

Information about current fire restrictions can be found at: www.fs.usda.gov/rogue-siskiyou.

Friday, June 26, 2015

June 26 Lightning Map Update

There was a little lightning that occurred mainly on Forest Service land near Prospect on the evening of June 26. For the latest maps visit swofiredata.com

Industrial Fire Precaution Level Rises to Level 2 on July 1

Prolonged dry conditions in southwest Oregon forestlands is the cause for the Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) to raise to a Level II (2) on July 1. Restrictions under IFPL II take effect at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 1, and apply to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, as well as state, private, county and Bureau of Land Management lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry in Jackson and Josephine counties.

The public regulated use fire danger level on ODF-protected lands remains at High (yellow).

The IFPL II restrictions apply only to contractors and permit holders, including those with permits to cut firewood for personal use. These restrictions are not applicable to standard recreational uses, such as campfires, which have separate restrictions that may apply.

Under IFPL II:

  • The use of fire in any form will be prohibited.
  • The use of power saws will be prohibited, except at loading sites, between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
  • The use of cable yarders will be prohibited between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
  • Blasting will be prohibited between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
  • Welding or cutting of metal will be 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 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

Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest fire prevention regulations are posted online at www.fs.usda.gov/rogue-siskiyou.

Buckskin Fire: Friday Update

A Type 3 fire organization, headed by Incident Commander Monte Edwards, will assume command of the Buckskin Fire on Saturday at 6 am. This team is meeting today with Rogue River-Siskyou National Forest managers for an in-brief of the fire. The Type 3 team will continue to monitor the fire, complete suppression repair and be available to respond should the fire situation warrant.

The Buckskin Fire is estimated at 5,345 acres. Overall containment remains at 60%. Full suppression of this fire remains the operational strategy.

The fire was quiet following yesterday’s test of the suppression lines with warm temperatures, lower humidity, and strong gusty winds. A Red Flag Warning has been issued by the National Weather Service for abundant lightning Friday afternoon through Sunday. These thunderstorms could produce dry lightning and erratic winds creating very active fire behavior. Firefighters are prepared and will remain vigilant to take additional suppression actions needed on the Buckskin Fire.

Today, crews will chip piled woody material stacked along the southeast containment line, gather equipment for back haul, and complete any suppression damage repairs. The north, west and south flanks of the fire are being patrolled by air. A Wildland Fire Module will be shuttled by helicopter to the southeast containment line to monitor the fire. A hand held palm infra-red camera will be flown by helicopter around the fire flanks and identify hot spots. Those spots will receive water drops by helicopters to extinguish.

Helibase at the Illinois Valley Airport will be closed today and all helicopters will operate from the Grants Pass Airport. The heliwell will remain near the Illinois Valley Airport for use. All water used in bucket drops from helicopters for any additional suppression efforts will come from the heliwell to protect critical Coho habitat in Baldface Creek.

Although there are lines surrounding the fire, several interior unburned islands remain within the primary containment lines. Smoldering of these unburned islands will likely continue until a season ending event.

Resources no longer needed in the suppression efforts of the fire are being released for reassignment or to return home.

With burnout operations completed, less smoke will be generated by the Buckskin Fire. Oregon Smoke at http://OregonSmoke.BlogSpot.com is an excellent resource for air quality information.

A Fire Area Closure Order remains in place closing forest land around the wildfire area to provide for public health and safety. For more information, please see the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Buckskin Fire Inciweb, or Buckskin Fire Facebook web pages.

Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR): A TFR remains in place over the Buckskin Fire. Please check the NOTAMs for current information.

Resources - Crews – 5; Engines –1; Water Tenders – 6; Helicopters – 3
Total Personnel - 295

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Water Trees Deeply as Mercury Climbs

The weather forecast is calling for high temperatures around most of the state through the weekend and even into the middle of next week. It’s a time to keep fire prevention uppermost in our minds, and also, to remember to protect the health of trees in yards and landscapes by deeply watering them.

"Summer temperatures can be hard on trees, especially landscape trees in our urban areas," says Kristin Ramstad, an urban forester with the Oregon Department of Forestry. "If they aren't well-watered, warm weather and prolonged drought eventually make trees more susceptible to insect and disease problems," adds Ramstad.

Seems like a good time to remember that when temperatures in Oregon get warm and stay warm, it can take a toll on trees as well as people. The Oregon Department of Forestry suggests a few tips for keeping your trees healthy during times of heat stress.

Symptoms of drought

One of the first signs that a deciduous tree (i.e., trees like birches or maples that drop leaves in the winter) needs water is that its leaves begin to look dull, and sometimes, limp.

More advanced symptoms of needing water are browning of leaves, wilting, and curling at the edges. Leaves may also develop a scorched or burned look, turning yellow or brown on outside edges, or between leaf veins. Leaves may even appear smaller than usual, drop prematurely, or turn brown but remain on the tree.

When drought-stressed, the needles of conifers (evergreen trees such as Ponderosa Pine or Douglas-fir) may turn yellow, red, purple or brown.

Watering tips

Given their benefits, longevity, and contributions to the environment, give your trees higher watering priority than lawns. Keep in mind that if trees are only provided with shallow water every so often, they're probably only getting a fraction of what they need. Watering trees for short periods of time encourages shallow rooting, which can lead to future health problems for the tree.

To make sure your tree gets the water it needs, saturate the soil within the drip line - that's the circle that could be drawn on the soil around the tree directly under the tips of its outermost branches. Using a regular hose or a soaker hose, water deeply and slowly - slowly is important, so the water doesn't run-off. To make sure it gets enough water, keep moving the hose around different areas under the tree.

For conifers, water 3 to 5 feet beyond the drip line on all sides of the tree. Also, if you have a choice, water trees during the cooler part of the day. Another way to water trees slowly is to put a nail hole in the bottom (near the edge) of a five gallon bucket. Fill the bucket with water, and leave the slowly leaking bucket under the canopy of the tree. Do this twice or three times per tree, moving the bucket each time.

Other tips: Use mulch

Using mulch is an excellent way to care for trees in warm weather, as it helps the soil below trees retain moisture and stay cool. Mulch can be made of bark, wood chips, leaves and evergreen needles.

Apply mulch within the drip line, at a depth of four inches, leaving a six-inch space between the mulch and tree trunk. Mulch will also help discourage weeds.

Lastly, don't plant annual flowers or other groundcovers under the canopy of your tree, as they'll compete with the tree's roots for moisture and nutrients.

Good tree care = a good investment

Trees and forests enhance quality of life in many ways, providing shade, wildlife habitat, clean air, wood and other products, raising property values, and providing clean, healthy streams.

What's more, on hot days, we all rely on the shade of the trees in our yards and communities. Therefore, it is a really good idea to keep our trees healthy and watered.

For more information about trees and tree care:
www.isa-arbor.com/
www.treesaregood.com/treecare/treecareinfo.aspx

Buckskin Fire: Thursday Update

The Buckskin Fire is estimated at 5,341 acres and is 60 percent contained. Full suppression of this fire remains the operational objective.

Today, crews will patrol and mop-up hotspots along the southwest containment line near Baldface Creek. Remaining equipment from the south containment lines will be removed and backhauled to the incident command post. Repair of dozer work, including trails and firefighter safety zones, will continue on the east flank. A large pile of woody debris stacked during line development will be chipped. Wildland Fire Modules will continue to monitor and patrol the west fire edge.

The helibase at the Illinois Valley Airport will be closed tomorrow and all helicopters will operate from Merlin. The heliwell will remain at the airport for use. All water used in bucket drops from helicopters for any additional suppression efforts will come from the heliwell to protect critical Coho habitat in Baldface Creek.

A Type 3 fire organization is planned to follow the current incident management team. This organization will be smaller and operating from the Wild Rivers Ranger District office in Cave Junction. The type 3 organization will continue to monitor, complete suppression repair and be available to respond should the fire situation warrant.

Hotter temperatures, lower humidity, and gusty winds are predicted for the next several days. A Fire Weather Watch, an advisement of conditions that could result in extensive wildland fire occurrence within 12 hrs., has been issued for abundant lightning Friday afternoon through Sunday. These thunderstorms could produce dry lightning and erratic winds creating very active fire behavior. Firefighters are prepared and will remain vigilant to take additional suppression actions needed on the Buckskin Fire.

Resources no longer needed in the suppression of the fire are being released for reassignment or to return home.

With burnout operations completed, less smoke generated by the Buckskin Fire should be in the air. For future reference, Oregon Smoke at http://OregonSmoke.BlogSpot.com is an excellent resource for air quality information.

A Fire Area Closure Order remains in place closing forest land around the wildfire area to provide for public health and safety. For more information, please see the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Buckskin Fire Inciweb, or Buckskin Fire Facebook web pages.

Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR): A TFR remains in place over the Buckskin Fire. Please check the NOTAMs for current information.

Resources - Crews – 6; Dozers – 1; Engines – 2; Water Tenders – 6; Helicopters – 9
Total Personnel - 352

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fire Danger on the Rise

High Temperatures and the Threat of Lightning Forecasted

Fire managers throughout Oregon are feeling the heat. Continued hot, dry weather is plaguing the region that could lead to a significant fire from a single spark.

“I’m sure everyone is aware of the heat wave that is predicted over the next several days,” says Oregon Department of Forestry Fire Prevention Coordinator Tom Fields. “While we’re all looking for ways to stay cool, now is not the time to be careless with activities that could lead to a wildfire.”

Fire season is now in effect throughout Oregon and much of the state is experiencing fire danger conditions normally seen in late July and August. ODF Meteorologists are predicting record warm weather across Oregon later this week, with afternoon temperatures climbing into the 95-105 °F range by Friday and continuing through the weekend. In addition, southerly flow aloft will bring an increasing risk of dry thunderstorms, on both sides of the Cascades, beginning in southern Oregon on Friday and spreading north across the state this weekend. With forests already at mid-August dryness levels, the impending hot spell and dry lightning poses a significant fire weather threat. While wildland fire agencies gear up for natural-caused wildfires, the last thing anyone wants is careless human-caused fires.

“The conditions are driving the story. So far, we’re seeing above normal numbers of human-caused fires.” Fields says even activities not normally linked to fire starts are causing concern. “We have had three fires related to target shooting just in the last week. One of those fires burned 67 acres and cost over $80,000 to put out. These fires, and the fact that we have already had 80-plus human-caused fires above the average for this time of year is an indication that we need everyone to think twice before conducting any spark emitting activity.”

So far in 2015 the Oregon Department of Forestry has suppressed 301 fires in 2015, 227 of which were started by people. The two leading causes are debris burning and campfires. Many parts of the state have imposed public fire restrictions on outdoor debris burning, campfires, off road driving, fireworks, the use of tracer ammunition and exploding targets to name a few. Log on to www.oregon.gov/odf for fire restrictions in your area or call your local Oregon Department of Forestry office or fire department.

Smoke Activity in the Happy Camp Complex

Hot spots have rekindled in a few areas within the Happy Camp Complex fire, located on the Klamath National Forest in northern California. With the coming of triple digit temperatures later this week, it is expected that more smoke will be seen over the 2014 wildfire.

“With a fire this size and the lack of snowpack from last winter, seeing a few smokes within the fire perimeter is not a big surprise,” commented Happy Camp/Oak Knoll District Ranger Tom Mutz. “We have firefighters assigned to monitor the fire and take action when needed. It is likely we will be dealing with isolated smokes and hotspots until we receive significant rainfall.”

Three “holdover” hotspots have been reported recently, burning in single snags deep within control lines. Each time a smoke is detected, it is evaluated by the incident commander and appropriate action is taken. One recent detection – a one hundred foot tall, five foot diameter dead Ponderosa Pine with smoke coming out of the top – was burning 400 feet below a road in an area of high severity burn from 2014. This snag was surrounded by a continuous landscape of dead, burned trees. Firefighters evaluated the risk of the fire moving from the single tree. Due to little or no ground fuels to carry fire in the area, coupled with significant risks to firefighter safety from falling snags, the decision was made to monitor the snag until it burns itself out.

While the weather is forecast to be very hot in the coming days, fire managers do not expect to have challenges from holdover hot spots. Control lines have been “mopped up” to over 300 feet and fire leaving the footprint of the 2014 burn is extremely unlikely. Firefighters are patrolling the fire area daily.

Forest visitors are cautioned that hazards in the burned area still exist. These include but are not limited to increased potential for falling trees, trail damage and mudslides or rockslides.

Buckskin Fire: Wednesday Update

The Buckskin Fire grew slightly due to the burnout operations to 5,340 acres. Overall containment is 50%. Full suppression of this fire remains the operational objective.

Crews burned out the last section of containment line working along an unnamed ridge carrying fire from the south containment line northeast to tie into the previously burned, cold fire edge and tie into Baldface Creek to secure this line. The heli-torch worked late into the evening adding depth to this containment line.

The west fire edge has not moved nor has any heat been detected for the past week. Fire managers and Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest officials made the decision not to use a direct suppression tactic on this portion of the fire due to the risk and exposure to firefighters by falling snags. A contingency line (Trail 1233) will remain to the west until the fire is deemed controlled.

Today, operations along the east containment line will include patrolling and completing repair of dozer work including staging areas and firefighter safety zones. The heli-torch, if needed, will continue burning out pockets of fuels near the southwest containment line adding depth. Burning these areas will consume fuels between the containment line and the main fire. This will secure the containment of the fire into the Baldface Creek. Wildland Fire Modules on the western flank will continue to monitor the inactive west fire edge.

Hot temperatures, lower humidity, and winds will test the containment lines into the weekend. Firefighters are prepared and remain vigilant to take suppression actions as needed.

Resources no longer needed in the suppression of the fire are being released for reassignment or to return home.

Oregon Smoke at http://OregonSmoke.BlogSpot.com is an excellent resource for air quality information. The burnout operations might produce some level of smoke in the Illinois Valley and surrounding communities.

A Fire Area Closure Order remains in place closing forest land around the wildfire area to provide for public health and safety. For more information, please see the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Buckskin Fire Inciweb, or Buckskin Fire Facebook web pages.

Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR): A TFR remains in place over the Buckskin Fire. Please check the NOTAMs for current information.

Start Date - June 11, 2015
Location - 10 miles southwest of Cave Junction on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
Cause - Lightning
Resources - Crews – 7; Dozers – 1; Engines – 1; Water Tenders – 7; Helicopters – 10
Total Personnel - 407

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Buckskin Fire: Tuesday Update

The Buckskin Fire has grown to 4,993 acres as firefighters continued burnout operations yesterday along the southern perimeter near Baldface Creek. Overall containment has improved to 45%.

Today, crews along the southwest edge of the fire will work to complete interior burnout operations. Helicopters will support the burnout with bucket drops, sling load cargo off the line and shuttle personnel. Crews working the eastern flank are in various stages of mop up, repair and monitoring. WIldland Fire Modules on the western flank continue to monitor the inactive fire edge. The fire area will continue to smolder and creep in the drainage creating visible smoke until a season ending event occurs, likely later in the Fall.
Forecasted oppressive heat, over 100 degrees will test the fire lines into the weekend. Interior fuels which have been smoldering could become more active. Fire managers will take suppression actions as needed.

Suppression repair guidelines have been prepared by resource advisors on the Buckskin Fire in conjunction with the Rogue River – Siskiyou National Forest specialists. Where necessary, suppression repair will be implemented by fire crews.

Oregon Smoke at http://OregonSmoke.BlogSpot.com is an excellent resource for air quality information. The burnout operations might produce some level of smoke in the Illinois Valley and surrounding communities.

A Fire Area Closure Order remains in place closing forest land around the wildfire area to provide for public health and safety. For more information, please see the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Buckskin Fire Inciweb, or Buckskin Fire Facebook web pages.

Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR): A TFR remains in place over the Buckskin Fire. Please check the NOTAMs for current information.

Start Date - June 11, 2015
Location - 10 miles southwest of Cave Junction on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
Cause - Lightning
Resources - Crews – 10; Dozers – 1; Engines – 6; Water Tenders – 7; Helicopters – 10
Total Personnel - 497

Monday, June 22, 2015

Buckskin Fire: Monday Update

Fire crews progressed yesterday with their burnout along the southern flank of the 4,843 acre Buckskin Fire. This controlled burning operation combined with the main fire consuming unburned pockets of vegetation increased the amount of smoke in the area. The fire is now 30% contained. Fire officials expect the burnout to be completed within the next two days before local temperatures rise back above normal levels.

Firefighters also completed a containment line in their effort to secure the southwest corner of the fire near Baldface Creek. Crews implemented a combination of indirect line and natural barriers to locate the fireline and also cut a helispot for support and safety concerns. Burnout operations will be focused in this area today.

The eastern and portions of the southern flanks of the fire are now being mopped up as firefighters continue to extinguish burning material within 300 feet of the containment lines. Danger from snags, fire-weakened trees and steep terrain will determine the depth of the mop-up. Two 10-person fire crews will continue to monitor fire behavior and weather on the west flank.

A significant warming and drying trend is forecasted for the area with poor overnight humidity recovery and temperatures greater than 100 degrees by the end of this week.

Two heliwells (self-contained water tanks used for helicopter bucket operations) will be operational today to reduce the strain on waterways used as helicopter dip sites. Water treated with a small percentage of bleach is being used to mitigate the spread of Port Orford Cedar root rot disease.

Fireline repair will continue along the eastern perimeter as conditions allow. Resource advisors worked with Rogue River – Siskiyou National Forest specialists to prepare suppression repair guidelines that address suppression impacts.

The plan includes the repair of all dozer lines, trails, containment lines, spike camps and other fire suppression related activities. Primary fire lines will remain in place to assure containment until local officials deem it safe to complete suppression repair. Safeguards remain in place to reduce impacts to natural resources, including critical Coho salmon habitat.

Communities in the Illinois and Rogue Valleys may continue to be impacted by smoke until burnout is completed over the next several days. Those sensitive to smoke should be aware and take appropriate actions. Detailed air quality information can be found on Oregon Smoke at http://OregonSmoke.BlogSpot.com.

A Fire Area Closure Order remains in place closing forest land around the wildfire area to provide for public health and safety. For more information, please see the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Buckskin Fire Inciweb, or Buckskin Fire Facebook web pages.

Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR): A TFR remains in place over the Buckskin Fire. Please check the NOTAMs for current information.

Start Date - June 11, 2015
Location - 10 miles southwest of Cave Junction on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
Cause - Lightning
Resources - Crews – 10; Dozers – 3; Engines – 6; Water Tenders – 10; Helicopters – 11
Total Personnel - 540

June 22 Pocketcard and Fire Statistics Update

As we move through this week we are expecting increasing heat with records being broken. The hottest days will be close to the weekend with a chance of disturbance and thunderstorms. SWO District is currently in high fire danger and IFPL1. For the latest pocket card and fire statistics please visit the SWO Fire Data website.