Friday, June 30, 2017

Fire Danger Level Increases to High Today

The fire danger level on Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands in Jackson and Josephine counties will increase to “high” (yellow) today, effective immediately. 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.
Restrictions on the public use of chain saws, brush cutters and other power-driven or spark-emitting machinery will be the biggest change, allowing the use of equipment until 10:00 a.m. and after 8 p.m.
The following fire prevention regulations that will remain in effect today, until further notice, are the following:
·         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.
·         Smoking while traveling will only be allowed in enclosed vehicles on improved roads, in boats on the water and other specifically designated locations;
·         Open fires are prohibited which includes campfires, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires, except at locations deemed a designated campground. Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are still allowed;
·         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;
·         Motorized vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, will be allowed only on improved roads free of flammable vegetation. One shovel and one gallon of water, or one 2.5 pound or larger fire extinguisher, is required while traveling.
·         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.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Firefighters Stomp Out 16 Lightning Fires on the District: Recon Mission Underway

Firefighters halted the spread of 16 lightning-caused fires on ODF-protected lands over the last 16 hours. Yesterday’s storm kept the ODF Southwest Oregon District and local fire agencies engaged as roughly 1,500 down strikes hit Jackson and Josephine Counties.
All lightning-related fires on the district were kept small; the largest being the Little Battle Mountain Fire which was just confirmed to be one acre. Originally, several of the fires were estimated to be a bit larger when discovered last night. However, now that all fires are contained and crews have had the chance to obtain an accurate GPS, several fires have “shrunk” in size.
“The initial size-up is usually different then the final #fire size. That’s due to a lot of things like time of day, amount of smoke, wind and even the slope. But at the end of the day, the fire size isn’t the most important factor, but how quickly and efficiently we can get the fire out in order to keep firefighters safe and free up additional resources,” said Dave Larson, District Forester.
Today, the district’s priority is to spot new fire starts. We will have a recon aircraft up throughout the entirety of the day searching both counties for smokes. However, lightning fires are tricky in that it can take days, even weeks for a smoke to pop up.
Therefore, this is only the starting point for our recon mission.
We would like to remind everyone that the fire danger level on Oregon Department of Forestry protected lands in Jackson and Josephine counties will remain at “moderate” (blue) for the time being. This means that our shut down time for several power-driven tools is from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. For a full list of the public restrictions currently in place, visit our Facebook page: @ODFSouthwest or our website: www.swofire.com.
For additional information about the Oregon Department of Forestry, 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
(Photo: Little Battle Mountain Fire, June 25, 2017)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Lightning Fire Update: 9:45 p.m.

Roughly 1,500 lightning strikes hit ODF Southwest Oregon District tonight.
Nearly 40 reports of smoke throughout Jackson and Josephine Counties have kept our crews busy over the last several hours.
As of 9:45 p.m. tonight, we have 13 confirmed fires. Most of the fires are contained, and those that are still active are currently staffed with multiple engines and crews.
Firefighters will continue working throughout the night in order to knock down the remaining fires and search for additional smokes. Please be cautious of continued fire traffic in both counties.
We would like to thank all of our partners throughout our region. The multi-agency #teamwork is impeccable.
As a reminder, there is still a chance of thunder and lightning overnight into tomorrow morning. We will be back at it tomorrow searching for additional starts.
(Next update will be tomorrow morning)

Lightning Fire Update: 6:55 p.m.

So far, close to 600 down strikes have hit our area, ranging from the Oregon-California border north to Trail, and Cave Junction east to Pinehurst.
Across both Jackson and Josephine Counties, we have responded to over 32 reports of smoke.
Of those calls, 9 were confirmed #fires, all under 1/2 an acre in size. Crews are still searching in the remaining reported areas, but have not located fires in several locations. In fact, some are duplicate calls for the same fire.
Tomorrow, we will have aircraft up doing a recon flight. The goal is to take a look at the big picture to see if any smokes are visible from the air.
Why couldn't we do this flight today? The active storm cells this afternoon posed too much of a hazard for our team.
Here's a quick snapshot of just one moment throughout ODF Southwest Oregon District's evening, and there's another round on the way.
Stay safe out there! #FireSeason is definitely here. Remember, clouds and a small amount of rain does not mean the fire danger level decreases. Burning debris piles is STILL prohibited. #KeepOregonGreen