FIRE RESTRICTIONS: -Fire Season terminated October 14, 2016. Read about burn permits.

Friday, November 18, 2016

2016 Central Oregon District Fire Season Highlights

The 2016 Fire Season in ODF’s Central Oregon District (COD) wrapped up October 14th as fall rains and cooler temperatures reduced the risk of large fire growth.  At first glance 2016 appears to be a return to “normal” when compared to the historic fire seasons of 2013, 2014, and 2015.  Year-to-date, ninety-seven fires have burned 2,456 acres protected by COD.  The ten-year average for this time period is 156 fires, burning 11,958 acres.  

Fuel conditions in May and early June looked as though 2016 would be similar to the previous three fire seasons.  Fuels were dry, and were burning like it was July.  One of the key influences for the 2016 fire season was the low number of lightning strikes inside the District and rain that came with the lightning, rather than the dry lightning of years past.  There were approximately 2,800 lightning strikes (YTD), the lowest number in the last fifteen years.  Over 25% of these strikes came during the first eight days in June, corresponding with the dry fuel conditions.  Nearly 50% of the fires caused by lightning were started during this time period, including the Akawana Fire which burned 2,094 acres.

The Akawana Fire ignited on June 7th burning in beetle killed timber and heavy brush.  The fire was initially pushed by strong winds, threatening communities northeast of the fire.  ODF’s Incident Management Team 3 and Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Green Team were brought in to manage the fire.  This was the only fire managed by an Incident Management Team in the District in 2016.  Mid-June rains helped put the Akawana Fire out, as well as reducing fire danger from near record levels.

Neal Creek Fire--The Dalles Unit
Human caused fires plagued the District throughout the summer, including the Chenoweth (June), Wassen Pond (July) and Neal Creek (August) fires which burned nearly 250 acres in The Dalles Unit.  John Day Unit firefighters responded to ten human caused fires which burned 56 acres of ODF protected land.  Humans accounted for thirty-one fires in the Prineville-Sisters Unit; quick action and available resources helped firefighters keep these fires small.  Partnerships with landowners, Rangeland Fire Protection Associations, Rural Fire Departments, and federal agencies such as BLM, USFS, and BIA, were key to successful initial attack within the District.  

Special Purpose Appropriation funds from the Oregon Legislature continue to fund air resources that are a critical element of our success.  These air resources were used to supplement District ground resources during high risk times in order to increase our initial attack effectiveness.  Two Type 2 helicopters, a Type 3 helicopter and helitack crew, and three Single Engine Air Tankers (SEAT’s) supported the District’s on the ground resources in 2016.  Two additional airplanes were contracted by the District to use as aerial detection and reconnaissance.  COD on the ground resources include 30 fire engines, 3 hand crews, 4 district dozers, and 3 tenders staffed by 81 seasonal personnel.  COD’s thirty-five permanent personnel are an integral part of the wildfire suppression effort by providing support and leadership to the frontline resources.

While much of the seasonal workforce is gone until next fire season, fire managers and administrative staff continue to work to prepare for financial audits, review the 2016 fire season to look for opportunities for improvement, prepare equipment for the 2017 fire season, plan next year’s budget and protection resources, and participate in training to improve the District’s response to wildfires.

Contact information for local ODF Offices can be found on the District’s webpage:

Thursday, November 10, 2016

B & M Timber nominated for Eastern Oregon Regional Operator of the Year Award

B & M Timber from Burns, Oregon (Brad Clemens) has been nominated for the Eastern Oregon Regional Operator of The Year Award. Each year, the Oregon Department of Forestry selects an outstanding operator from each of the three regions for this award.

B & M Timber’s work has consistently exceeded the Forest Practices Act and Forest Practice rules. Their work has demonstrated the ability to handle difficult circumstances, innovation, and extra effort to consistently produce outstanding results.

On October 26st a committee consisting of Oregon Department of Forestry employees toured five job sites that B & M Timber had recently completed on private property located within the Canyon Creek Fire. These sites were salvaged logged due to the intensity of the fire along Canyon Creek. The committee also visited sites in Baker County. An announcement will be made in December on which nominee will receive the 2016 Eastern Oregon Operator of the year award.

B & M Timber’s nomination was submitted by Kirk Ausland , Stewardship Forester, from the Central Oregon District of the Oregon Department of Forestry in John Day.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

2016 Fire Season ends for private lands in central Oregon

The 2016 Fire Season for lands protected by Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) Central Oregon District (COD) will terminate at 12:01 am October 14, 2016.  Powerful winter storms are expected to cross central Oregon starting today, bringing moisture and cooler conditions, reducing the risk of wildfire.  “Reducing is the key word,” says Ben Duda, Sisters’ Assistant Unit Forester.  “We all need to be cautious and responsible in our activities.  Just because fire season is over doesn’t mean things won’t burn.”

COD firefighters have responded to ninety-seven fires in 2016, burning 2,456 acres.  Twenty-three of these fires were caused by lightning, but 77% of the fires were human caused.  Topping the list for human caused fires is escaped debris burns and campfires which are not fully extinguished.  Fall weather can vary day to day, cold temperatures and wind can dry fuels and fan flames when fires are left unattended or not DEAD OUT.

Uncontrolled fire can result in citations and fines, as well as liability for any costs associated with suppression of the fire.  Consider alternatives to burning such as chipping, composting and debris removal programs through your local landfill. 
Following these tips will help reduce the risk of an uncontrolled fire:
  • Check with your local fire agency to determine if you need a permit, what restrictions are in place, and if it is a burn day.
  • Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Keep fires small and manageable.
  • Do not burn on windy days.
  • Have water and a shovel available.
  • Clear the area around the fire to mineral soil.
  • To extinguish your fire:  Drown with water and stir until it is cold to the touch.
  • Report any uncontrolled fire to 9-1-1.
Additional information can be found on ODF’s Fire Prevention webpage:
Termination of fire season brings an increase in outdoor burning from activities such as fuel reduction, yard debris clean-up, and operations to reduce slash in managed forests.  Over the next few weeks smoke columns will be visible throughout central Oregon.
The process for obtaining burn permits has changed in some Units of COD.  Please check with your local office for information regarding burn permits from ODF.  Contact information for local ODF Offices can be found on the District’s webpage:  Requests for burn permits can also be entered on the website.