Monday, August 3, 2020

Fir Mountain Fire--Evening Update

[THE DALLES, Ore]   Today firefighters on the Fir Mountain Fire battled winds and humidity similar to what they experienced Sunday.  Air resources were again used to slow the spread of the spotfires in area east of the main fire while crews and equipment were kept busy working to contain any additional spotfires.  Winds blowing embers outside the fireline rapidly ignited the dry fuels and challenged firefighters.    
Initial mapping work today from helicopter platforms and ground truthing identified the perimeter of several of the spotfires on the eastern edge of the fire area.  Fire operations worked with the Wasco County Sheriff who determined the need for a Level 3 Evacuation (GO!) for three residences on Godberson Road.  This evacuation notice is not due to fire growth.  Additionally a Level 1 Evacuation (BE READY!) has been issued for other residences on the eastern flank of the fire.  The details of the evacuation area are available on the Wasco County Sheriff’s Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/WascoCountySheriff.
With preliminary mapping of the larger main fire and identification of the numerous spotfires the incident management team estimates the total fire acreage to be 200 acres.  Spotfires between the main fire and Godberson Road range in size from a quarter acre to nearly ten.  Sunday night firefighters  completed fireline construction with a bulldozer of a ~2 acre spotfire adjacent to Godberson Road, today this fire was kept within the fireline.  Resources today were successful in minimizing growth of the spotfires using heavy equipment and hand crews in coordination with helicopter bucket drops, water from the fireboss tankers, and large air tanker retardant drops. 
Crews also constructed hoselays to disburse water throughout the fire area for mop-up and to extinguish hot spots and fire outside the fire line.  The heavy fuel in the fire area is hampering efforts to extinguish the fire, as well as making it difficult to secure the line and mop-up the interior.  The fire is estimated to be five percent contained this evening.
The fire was reported late in the night August 1 and remains under investigation.
ODF’s Central Oregon District continues to serve landowners and the public as an essential service for Oregonians.  Please call or email to talk with our staff or schedule an appointment.  For additional information on ODF’s Central Oregon District, including contact information and unit offices, please visit www.ODFcentraloregon.com.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Fire Season Declared for ODF Protection in Central Oregon

[Prineville, Ore.]  Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) Central Oregon District will enter Fire Season June 1, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.   This affects private, county, state, and local government lands within the District Boundary.  Summer weather patterns continue to dry wildland fuels and increase the risk for fire spread, these weather patterns also bring the risk of lightning and increase fire activity in the area.  Fire season declaration is intended to reduce human fire starts by restricting some activities related to forest operations and open burning.
“When the District enters fire season it highlights the change of wildland fuel and weather patterns”, explains Rob Pentzer, Acting District Forester.  “It is an indicator to our landowners, operators, and the public that we are trending toward warm, dry weather and we need to change our actions to reduce any potential starts and prevent fires when we can.”
The fire season declaration restricts the use of tracer ammunition and exploding targets within the District, as well as the use of blasting materials.  Smoking while working or traveling through forest operations is also prohibited.  Luminaries (sky lanterns) are always prohibited in Oregon.
All open burning within the Central Oregon District Protection Boundary requires a permit during fire season.  Landowners who burned earlier this spring should check their piles to ensure there is no heat or flames, recent warm temperatures can rekindle these burns if any fire remains.  When checking piles use a shovel to stir the ashes and feel below the surface for heat.  Use water and dirt to extinguish any remaining heat.  Check for local restrictions regarding open burning, as some local governments and fire departments have implemented additional burn bans.
These restrictions do not apply to campfires, however following safe burning practices will decrease the risk of fire spread.  Always make sure your campfire is DEADOUT! before leaving the area and never leave a fire unattended.
In addition to the fire season declaration Industrial Fire Precaution Level 1 will be in effect for regulated use areas MH-1 and MH-4 (Wasco and Hood River counties).  All forest operations should have appropriate fire equipment and perform a fire watch, details for these rules are available at  www.oregon.gov/odf/Fire/Documents/2019%20Fire%20Season%20Requirements.pdf.  Stewardship Foresters from local units within Central Oregon District can provide additional guidance as needed. 
ODF’s Central Oregon District continues to serve landowners and the public as an essential service for Oregonians.  Please call or email to talk with our staff or schedule an appointment.  For additional information on ODF’s Central Oregon District, including contact information and unit offices, please visit www.ODFcentraloregon.com.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Fire Season Ends for Oregon Department of Forestry’s Central Oregon District


[Prineville, Ore]  Recent cool temperatures and precipitation have brought an end to the 2019 fire season for Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) Central Oregon District.  At 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, September 26, 2019 fire season will officially be terminated.  Wildland fuels across the District do not pose a significant risk of rapid fire growth, however weather and fuel conditions during the fall can change quickly.  The public is reminded to follow all local burning restrictions to reduce the risk of escaped debris burns.
“We still want everyone to be careful with their burning, and to follow recommendations and restrictions,” reminds Kristin Dodd, Unit Forester in The Dalles.  “Terminating fire season doesn’t mean fire won’t burn, especially on dry windy days.”
Landowners who plan to burn industrial logging slash, fuel reduction or defensible space materials, or other debris from forest activities should contact their local ODF Office to obtain a burn permit.  Burning of yard debris or burn barrels should follow fire department restrictions and do not require a permit from ODF.  

On THE DALLES UNIT (Hood River and Wasco counties)—Yard debris (small piles) and burn barrels are allowed from dawn until 11:00 a.m.  Burn permits are required by ODF or the local fire district.  Please call for details to obtain a permit.
On PRINEVILLE-SISTERS and JOHN DAY UNITS—Contact your local fire department for information regarding yard debris and burn barrels.
Fires should never be left unattended.  A shovel and water source on site are recommended when burning, even small piles.  Landowners may be liable for fires which escape.    
Firefighters within the Central Oregon District responded to 126 fires across the 2.3 million protected acres, burning just over 230 acres year-to-date.  The ten-year average for acres burned within the District is over 8,000 acres annually. The small number of acres burned in 2019 can be attributed to the quick, coordinated response of firefighting resources, wet thunderstorms, and a more moderate fire season across the region allowing more resources to be available for initial attack and extended attack for suppression efforts.  Human ignitions accounted for 49 fires, with 77 fires attributed to lightning. 
For additional information on ODF’s Central Oregon District, including contact information and unit offices, please visit www.ODFcentraloregon.com.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Regulated-Use Closure Terminated for Private Lands in Central Oregon District


[Prineville, Ore]  Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) has terminated Regulated-Use Closure for lands within the Central Oregon District (COD) effective 12:01 a.m.  September 16, 2019.  Lands affected include private, county, and municipal ownership inside the Central Oregon District Protection Boundary within the following counties:  Wasco, Hood River, Wheeler, Sherman, Umatilla, Grant, Harney, Morrow, Gilliam, Jefferson, Lake, Crook, and Deschutes.  While campfires will be allowed with owner permission inside the District, Rob Pentzer, District Forester for COD, reminds the public “Conditions can change rapidly in the fall and a fire should never be left unattended.  Be sure your fire is DEAD-OUT before you leave.”  Check for local county or fire department restrictions and burn bans before lighting a campfire or traveling off-road.
Fire season remains in effect for the Central Oregon District.  Cool temperatures and typical fall weather have reduced fire danger in wildland fuels and the potential for large fire growth is diminished.  However wind quickly dries fuels even following rain and changing weather and fuel conditions can result in unexpected fire spread.  Please use caution and respect fire season restrictions.  Open burning, including yard debris is prohibited during fire season.  Fuel and weather conditions will continue to be monitored. 
Industrial Fire Precaution Level for MH-1 and MH-4 for Wasco and Hood River counties remains at Level 1.   
For additional information on ODF’s Central Oregon District, including contact information and unit offices, please visit www.ODFcentraloregon.com.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Fire Prevention Restrictions Reduced for Private Lands in ODF’s Central Oregon District

[Prineville, Ore]  Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) is reducing fire prevention restrictions for lands within the Central Oregon District beginning at 12:01 a.m. on September 5, 2019.  Lands affected include private, county, and municipal lands inside the Central Oregon District Protection Boundary within the following counties:  Wasco, Hood River, Wheeler, Sherman, Umatilla, Grant, Harney, Gilliam, Jefferson, Lake, Crook, and Deschutes.  The lessened restrictions reflect a reduced potential for large fire growth based on current fuel conditions, improved humidity recovery, shorter burn periods typical in fall, and the current weather forecast for cooler temperatures and increased precipitation.
The reduced restrictions rescinds the Fire Precaution Order (dated August 7, 2019) for industrial forest operations restricting certain harvest machinery and operations within the John Day and Prineville-Sisters Units. Industrial Fire Precaution Level for MH-1 and MH-4 for Wasco and Hood River counties remains at Level 2.   Burn bans and local county or fire department restrictions remain in effect.  High risk activities identified in the Regulated Use Closure will be restricted between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.  Activities below are restricted by this closure.  Additional restrictions and the full proclamation can be accessed at www.Oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx
·        Possession of the following firefighting equipment is required while traveling in a motorized vehicle, except on federal and state highways, county roads and driveways: one shovel and one gallon of water or one operational 2½ pound or larger fire extinguisher, except all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles which must be equipped with an approved spark arrestor in good working condition.
·        Smoking is prohibited while traveling, except in vehicles on improved roads.
·        Open fires are prohibited, including campfires, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires, except in designated areas.
·        Chainsaw use is prohibited, between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.  Chainsaw use is permitted at all other hours, if the following firefighting equipment is present with each operating saw: one axe, one shovel, and one operational 8 ounce or larger fire extinguisher.  In addition, a fire watch is required at least one hour following the use of each saw.
·        Mowing of dried grass with power driven equipment is prohibited, between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., except for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.
·        Use of motor vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, is prohibited, except on improved roads and except for vehicle use by a landowner and employees of the landowner upon their own land while conducting activities associated with their livelihood.
·        The use of fireworks and blasting is prohibited.
For additional information on ODF’s Central Oregon District, including contact information and unit offices, please visit www.ODFcentraloregon.com.