Friday, October 20, 2017

Fire Season Ends Today, but Fire Prevention Continues

After 138 days of being ramped up and ready to fight wildland fires, the 2017 fire season ends today, Friday, October 20, at 9:00 a.m. on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District. Lands affected by this declaration include state, private, county, city, and Bureau of Land Management forestlands in Jackson and Josephine counties.
Fire season proved to be particularly challenging throughout the District due to the abundance of abutted lightning storms. The preliminary totals for the season show ODF firefighters tackling 335 wildland fires totaling roughly 930 acres. Of those fires, 127 are directly linked to lightning. This total fire count does not even include the number of alarms firefighters responded to related to fire restriction violations, assisting our local partners, and smoke chases throughout Jackson and Josephine Counties. Overall, 97 percent of all ODF Southwest fires were held at ten acres or less. We accredit this not only to our aggressive initial attack and well-trained team, but our countless partners throughout our region that have helped to make this season a success.
The termination of fire season removes fire prevention regulations on equipment use and the use of fire for debris burning. This applies to the public and industrial operations on forestlands. However, many structural fire agencies require permits for debris burning; please check with your local fire department to obtain any necessary permits before burning.
This is a great reminder; while fire season is over; fire prevention must continue. Please be vigilant while burning debris making sure that a burn pile is never left unattended. Also, please use caution while using machinery that could produce a spark. While there is precipitation throughout our region today, fall weather in southern Oregon varies greatly. Regardless, we are here to help.
Fire prevention tips and additional information is available online at www.swofire.com, our Facebook page: @ODFSouthwest, or you can call/visit the Southwest Oregon District 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

###

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Firefighters stop Little Applegate Fire at 9.5 Acres

Firefighters halted the Little Applegate Fire at 9.5 acres around 1:30 p.m. today. The initial report came in just after 12:30 p.m. with an estimated size of one-acre. Within minutes, the fire began spreading and spotting upslope near two homes off the intersection of Upper Applegate and Little Applegate Roads near the Applegate. While the two homes were initially threatened by the fire, no homes were lost or damaged by this incident; however, an outbuilding has been deemed a total loss.

There are still several firefighters on site investigating the cause of the fire, as well as mopping up hot spots along the hillside. At this time, the fire is 100 percent lined and 40 percent mopped up. Please use caution when driving through this area for the remainder of the afternoon as fire traffic will still be present.

Crews from the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District, Applegate Valley Fire District, Jacksonville Fire, U.S. Forest Service Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, and the Rogue Valley 2 Strike Team assisted in the suppression of this fire. A special thanks to the Forest Service for lending their two Type 2 helicopters that were on-hand at the Miller Complex. As always, we would like to thank our partners for the continued quick and efficient responses to wildfires throughout our region. For video of our firefighting efforts in action, visit our Facebook page: @ODFSouthwest.

This is a great reminder; fire season is not over yet. Please know the fire restrictions in your area before recreating outdoors this weekend. For additional information about the Oregon Department of Forestry, please visit us at www.swofire.com or call/visit the Southwest Oregon District 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

###




Friday, September 29, 2017

Public and Industrial Fire Restrictions Lower Tomorrow, Fire Season Remains in Effect

Continued cool temperatures, precipitation and overnight relative humidity recoveries have prompted the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District to drop the public fire danger level to “Low” (green) and the Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) to I (one) tomorrow, Saturday, September 30, 2017 at 12:01 a.m.

Some of the public restriction changes include allowing ‘all-day use’ of power saws, and equipment for mowing dry, dead grass.

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.

Precipitation has lent a helping hand in reducing the chance for difficult wildfires; however, the uncertainty of consistent rainfall could still pose a risk. Fire managers will reevaluate the upcoming conditions after the weekend in order to determine if fire season can be terminated soon.

As a reminder, public fire restrictions which will remain in effect, include:

·         No debris burning, including piles and debris burned in burn barrels.
·         No fireworks on forestlands.
·         Exploding targets and tracer ammunition, or any bullet with a pyrotechnic charge in its base, are prohibited.
·         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; one shovel and one gallon of water, or one 2.5 pound or larger fire extinguisher, is required while traveling.
·         Smoking while traveling will only be allowed in enclosed vehicles on improved roads, in boats on the water and other specifically designated locations.
·         Any 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.
Under IFPL I (One) – fire season requirements are in effect. In addition to the following:

·         A Firewatch is required at this and all higher levels unless otherwise waived.
For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s fire season public restrictions, 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 season information is also available online at our Facebook page: @ODFSouthwest and our website: www.swofire.com.

###

Monday, September 18, 2017

Rain Decreases both Public and Industrial Fire Restrictions

The recent rain and cooler temperatures have made it possible to decrease fire restrictions across southwest Oregon. Effective immediately, the fire danger level on Oregon Department of Forestry protected lands in Jackson and Josephine counties will lower to “moderate” (blue). In addition, fire prevention measures for logging, non-logging industrial operations, and all other commercial operations will lessen. Industrial Fire Precaution Level II (two) takes effect today.

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.

As a reminder, public fire restrictions which will remain in effect, include:

·         No debris burning, including piles and debris burned in burn barrels.
·         No fireworks on forestlands.
·         Exploding targets and tracer ammunition, or any bullet with a pyrotechnic charge in its base, are prohibited.
·         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; one shovel and one gallon of water, or one 2.5 pound or larger fire extinguisher, is required while traveling.
·         Smoking while traveling will only be allowed in enclosed vehicles on improved roads, in boats on the water and other specifically designated locations.
·         Chain saws may not be used between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. during moderate fire danger. During hours outside of this time frame, chain saws may be used but require that the operator have one shovel and one 8-oz or larger fire extinguisher at the work site. A fire watch is also required for one hour after each chainsaw use.
·         Cutting, grinding, and welding of metal is not allowed between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. during moderate fire danger. These activities will be allowed during hours outside of this time frame only if the work site is cleared of potentially flammable vegetation and other materials, and a water supply is at the job site.
·         The mowing of dead or dried grass with power-driven equipment is not allowed between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. during moderate fire danger. This restriction does not include mowing of green lawns, or equipment used for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.
·         Any other spark-emitting internal combustion engine-use not specifically mentioned is not allowed between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. during moderate fire danger. Use of any spark-emitting internal combustion engine is allowed outside of this time frame only if the work site is cleared of potentially flammable vegetation and other materials, and a water supply is at the job site.
·         Any 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.
Under IFPL II (Two) – limited shutdown, which is entirely separate from all public fire restrictions, the following may operate after 8 p.m. and up until 1 p.m. daily:

·         Power saws, except at loading sites.
·         Feller-bunchers with rotary head saws.
·         Cable yarding.
·         Blasting.
·         Welding, cutting, or grinding of metal.
For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s fire season public restrictions, 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 season information is also available online at our Facebook page: @ODFSouthwest and our website: www.swofire.com.

###

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Fire Danger Level Drops to High Tomorrow

A combination of higher relative humidities and cooler temperatures across southwest Oregon have made it possible to ease-off on some fire prevention regulations. The fire danger level on Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands in Jackson and Josephine counties will be lowered to “high” (yellow) tomorrow, September 15, 2017 at 12:01 a.m. The Industrial Fire Precaution Level will remain at a level 3 (three).
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.
Restrictions on the public use of chain saws, brush cutters and other power-driven or spark-emitting machinery are being slightly relaxed, allowing the use of equipment until 10:00 a.m. and after 8 p.m. Today will be the last day power-driven and/or spark-emitting machinery is completely prohibited.
Other fire prevention regulations which will remain in effect, include:
·         No debris burning, including piles and debris burned in burn barrels.
·         No fireworks on forestlands.
·         Exploding targets and tracer ammunition, or any bullet with a pyrotechnic charge in its base, are prohibited.
·         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; one shovel and one gallon of water, or one 2.5 pound or larger fire extinguisher, is required while traveling.
·         Smoking while traveling will only be allowed in enclosed vehicles on improved roads, in boats on the water and other specifically designated locations.
·         Chain saws may not be used between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. during high fire danger. During hours outside of this time frame, chain saws may be used but require that the operator have one shovel and one 8-oz or larger fire extinguisher at the work site. A fire watch is also required for one hour after each chainsaw use.
·         Cutting, grinding, and welding of metal is not allowed between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. during high fire danger. These activities will be allowed during hours outside of this time frame only if the work site is cleared of potentially flammable vegetation and other materials, and a water supply is at the job site.
·         The mowing of dead or dried grass with power-driven equipment is not allowed between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. during high fire danger. This restriction does not include mowing of green lawns, or equipment used for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.
·         Any other spark-emitting internal combustion engine-use not specifically mentioned is not allowed between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. during high fire danger. Use of any spark-emitting internal combustion engine is allowed outside of this time frame only if the work site is cleared of potentially flammable vegetation and other materials, and a water supply is at the job site.
·         Any 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 fire season public restrictions, 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 season information is also available online at our Facebook page: @ODFSouthwest and our website: www.swofire.com.

                                                                                ###

Thursday, September 7, 2017

ODF Firefighters Chasing New Starts across Southern Oregon

Firefighters from the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District have already tackled six wildfires overnight; however, additional new fire starts are expected to pop-up as the temperatures begin to rise throughout the day. ODF’s Southwest Oregon District, which encompasses 1.8 million acres of land in Jackson and Josephine Counties, was pummeled with nearly 200 lightning strikes in a few short hours yesterday evening. Only a quarter of those hits were positive strikes, meaning the strikes are more powerfully charged compared to a negative strike; therefore, more likely to spark a wildfire. Firefighters will be gridding the landscape surrounding those confirmed positive strikes in order to try to catch any new starts while they are small.

 Of the six wildfires located in the past 12 hours, five of them are 100 percent lined and 100 percent mopped up; all five were stopped at less than one acre in size. The sixth fire, being called the East Antelope Fire, was recently mapped at 3 acres. The fire burning six miles east of Roxy Ann Peak on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) forestland is close to being fully lined. Firefighters will continue making progress on this fire until we reach 100 percent containment.
In addition to firefighters patrolling on the ground, a FLIR-equipped aircraft is lending a helping hand to the District today. This aerial resource will utilize thermal imaging technology to help detect new starts throughout southern Oregon from high above all of the existing smoke. Additionally, ODF Southwest has its air attack platform and helicopters available for initial attack, as visibility allows.
With forecasted thunderstorms anticipated to roll into our region today, ODF firefighters will remain vigilant - knocking down new fires as quickly as possible. However, we need your help in preventing any and all human-caused starts. We would like to remind everyone that the fire danger level on Oregon Department of Forestry protected lands in Jackson and Josephine counties remains at “extreme” (red) today. For a full list of the public restrictions currently in place, visit our Facebook page: @ODFSouthwest or our website: www.swofire.com.

                                                                ###

Fire Restrictions Lower for Industrial Operators Today

High relative humidity and slightly improved air quality has prompted the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District to drop the Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) to III (three) today, effective immediately.
Please note, this is separate from the general public fire restrictions currently in effect. ODF Southwest’s public restrictions remain in place and unchanged with a fire danger level of “extreme” (red).
The following are prohibited between 1:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.:
  • Power saws at loading sites;
  • Loading or hauling of any product or material;
  • Blasting;
  • Welding, cutting, or grinding of metal;
  • Any other spark emitting operation not specifically mentioned.
In addition, the following are permitted to operate overnight to the morning, between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m., where mechanized equipment capable of constructing fire line is immediately available to quickly reach and effectively attack a fire start:
  • Ground-based operations (tractor/skidder, feller-buncher, forwarder, or shovel logging operations);
  • Power saws on ground-based operations;
  • Rotary head saw feller-bunchers with a continuous Firewatch;
  • Non-rotary head saw feller-bunchers;
  • Tethered logging - winch-assisted, cable-assisted, traction-assisted, etc. systems, which enable ground-based timber harvesting machines to operate on steep slopes.
This is considered a restricted shutdown and the following activities are not permitted at any time, except as noted:
  • Cable yarding systems, except that gravity operated logging systems using non-motorized carriages or approved motorized carriages may operate between 8:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m., when all blocks and moving lines are suspended at least 10 feet above the ground (except the line between the carriage and the chokers).
For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s public or industrial fire season restrictions, visit our Facebook page: ODF Southwest Oregon District, or our website www.swofire.com.

              ###

Friday, September 1, 2017

IFPL IV in Effect September 1

Increased fire danger on forestlands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District has made it necessary to increase the fire prevention measures on logging and non-logging industrial operations, as well as all other commercial operations. Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) IV (Four) takes effect at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow, Friday, September 1, 2017.
Please note, this is separate from the general public fire restrictions currently in effect. ODF Southwest’s fire restrictions remain in place and unchanged with a fire danger level of “extreme” (red).
Under IFPL IV, all industrial actions are prohibited. Industrial actions include cable yarding, use of power saws, logging operations using tractors, skidders, feller-bunchers, mechanized loading or hauling, blasting, welding or cutting of metal, or any other spark-emitting operation not yet mentioned.
No waivers will be issued for harvest or road construction activities. Waivers may be considered on a case-by-case basis for extremely low risk operations.
ODF Southwest fully understands the burden that this places on our industrial cooperators and the local economy.  This decision is never made lightly; in fact, it has been more than 20 years since ODF Southwest has issued a Level IV closure.
In regards to the duration of this closure, ODF Southwest personnel will be constantly monitoring several factors; including weather conditions and smoke forecasts - just to name a few, in order to lower the IFPL Level, as soon as safely possible.
For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s public or industrial fire season restrictions, visit our Facebook page: ODF Southwest Oregon District, or our websitewww.swofire.com.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Nugget and Grizzly Peak Fires 100 Percent Lined

After sixty straight hours of firefighting, the Nugget Fire is 100 percent lined as of today. Initially, the terrain posed too many challenges to crews to build a direct fire line, such as steep slopes, an abundance of hazard trees and poor access leaving limited to no escape routes. However, over the past 24 hours significant progress has been made in improving access and creating safety zones. Local contractors from Butte Falls to Roseburg were brought in to assist with the removal of numerous hazard trees all within the fire’s estimated 5 to 10 acre perimeter. This allowed firefighters overnight to switch tactics from building indirect line away from the fire’s edge, to constructing a control line up against the perimeter of the burning landscape. Firefighters are now set up for a more successful and safe firefight.
Air operations continues to play a vital role in the Nugget Fire. The continuous bucket drops being made have helped cool hot spots while ground crews chipped away at their respective goals. While members of the community will still see helicopters dipping out of the Rogue River in Gold Hill, this is to continue to suppress the interior heat while firefighters on the ground begin mopping up from the perimeter moving inward.
The Nugget Fire was first reported late Thursday night burning on Nugget Butte in Gold Hill. The cause of the fire is under investigation. We would like to thank our partners and members of the community for the continued support.
The series of fires near Grizzly Peak are now 100 percent lined and 90 percent mopped up. Firefighters will be combing the area this week in order to ensure that no additional hot spots are present. The trail system will remain closed until firefighters wrap up their work and feel that there is no longer a threat to public health and safety. Thank you all in advance for your patience.
Please keep in mind that we are still in “Extreme” Fire Danger in Jackson and Josephine Counties. Make sure you and your family are aware of the current fire restrictions in place. For additional information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s current fire restrictions, please visit: ODF Southwest on Facebook, or www.swofire.com.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday Evening Fire Update

Today, ODF Southwest firefighters and our cooperators tackled numerous fires on ODF-protected land across Jackson and Josephine Counties. While this storm has pushed our team to its limits, we are holding true to keeping fires as small as possible, and keeping the community safe. Nearly every fire we have shared information on this week is close to being fully lined and in mop up, except for the following:
The Nugget Fire is still challenging firefighters as the steep terrain covered in snags poses a hazard to all personnel on the ground. Crews are continuing to work on fire line around the perimeter, but access is also playing a role in the demanding firefight. The fire is still estimated to be 5 to 10 acres by ODF’s air attack, but we have not yet mapped the fire due to the same challenges previously mentioned. Overnight, firefighters will be focusing on building and strengthening control line. While the fire will be letting off smoke, the fire activity remains moderate primarily in the interior of the burn. No homes are threatened by this fire.
Also, the series of Grizzly Peak Fires are being wrapped up, but additional mop up will be taking place tomorrow before we call all five of these fires 100% contained. Since air operations will continue cooling hot spots tomorrow, and firefighters will be working throughout the Grizzly Peak area, a temporary closure of the Grizzly Peak Trail system is in effect in order to protect public health and safety. For the full information on that closure, visit www.swofire.com.

We would like to thank the community for the tremendous amount of support we have all felt while working on countless number of fires since this storm took off Monday. We are also incredibly grateful for the partnerships in place with U.S. Forest Service Rogue River Siskiyou National Forest, Bureau of Land Management Medford District, all local city and county agencies, ODF Klamath-Lake District, Cal Fire and finally, Oregon Department of Forestry IMT I. The amount of fires we have been able to keep small is a testament to our superb partnerships throughout our area.  

Effective Immediately: Grizzly Peak Trail System Closed to Protect Public Health and Safety

With increased fire activity on Grizzly Peak near Ashland, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Medford District jointly with the Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest Oregon District have decided that a temporary closure of the Grizzly Peak Trail system is necessary in order to protect public health and safety. The closure is effective immediately and will be in place until the area is deemed safe for public access.
Currently, firefighters are still engaged on Grizzly Peak; however, only three of the five fires initially reported are still actively burning. The first two fires were knocked down and 100% contained by early afternoon. Both are less than an acre in size. Firefighters are engaged on the final three fires tonight. The fires range from ¼ acre to 2 acres, and are each at least 30% mopped up and 100% lined. We will continue to work on these fires swiftly and efficiently in order to eliminate any further risk to public and firefighter safety.
Closure signs will be placed at main entry points to the area; however, maps of the closure area can be obtained through the BLM Medford District Office. The Grizzly Peak Trail is on federal land administered by the Bureau of Land Management out of its Medford District office. It is a popular hiking area that attracts several visitors during the summer months. Therefore, we hope this precaution keeps both visitors and firefighters safe as they continue to make progress on the series of fires on Grizzly Peak.
The full Emergency Closure Notification is below. For additional information, please reach out to the BLM Medford District office at (541) 618-2200, or the Oregon Department Southwest Oregon District Medford Unit at (541 664-3328.

                                                              ###



U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
MEDFORD DISTRICT
3040 Biddle Rd.
Medford OR 97504



EMERGENCY CLOSURE OF PUBLIC LANDS:                                  Jackson County, Oregon

AGENCY:                 Bureau of Land Management, Medford District Office, Oregon

ACTION:                  Temporary closure of public land in Jackson County, Oregon.

SUMMARY:  The Medford District, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is giving notice that we are temporarily closing the Grizzly Peak Trails beginning on August 11, 2017. These restrictions are to protect public health and safety (43 CFR 9268.3(d)(1).

THE CLOSED/RESTRICTED AREA ARE:

The Grizzly Peak Trail system – Township 38S, Range 2E, Section 8, 17, 18, and Road 38S-02W-9.2.

BLM will post closure signs at main entry points to this area. You may obtain maps of the closure area and information from the Medford District Office.

DATES:  This closure will be in effect from the date of signature until the area is deemed as safe for public access.

FOR FURTHER INFORMA TION CONTACT:  Kristi Mastrofini, Ashland Resource Area Field Manager, 3040 Biddle Road, Medford, OR 97504, telephone (541) 618-2438.

DISCUSSION OF THE RULES:  Under the authority of 43 CFR 9268.3(d)(1)(i), BLM will enforce the following rule on public lands within the closed area:

You may not travel on the Grizzly Peak trail in Township 38S, Range 2E, Section 8, 17, 18 or the road leading to the trail, Road 38S-02E-9.2 beyond Shale City Road.

EXEMPTIONS:  Persons who are exempt from these rules include:
·         Any Federal, State, or local officer or employee in the scope of their duties;
·         Members of any organized rescue or fire-fighting force i n performance of an official duty;
·         Any person authorized in writing by the Bureau of Land Management.

PENALTIES: Authorities for this closure are section 303(a) of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. I733(a)) and 43 CFR 8360.0-7. Any person who knowingly and willfully violates any closure order issued under § 9268.3(c)(2) of this title shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned for not more than 12 months, or both. Such violations may also be subject to the enhanced penalties as provided for by 18 U.S.C. 3571.