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.