FIRE RESTRICTIONS: Fire Season terminated October 16, 2017. Regulated Closure terminated October 3.
MH1 and MH4 IFPL: IFPL Terminated as of October 16, 2017.

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:  www.ODFcentraloregon.com
 

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:  http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/pages/FirePrevention.aspx
 
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:  www.ODFcentraloregon.com.  Requests for burn permits can also be entered on the website. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Oregon Department of Forestry terminates Regulated Closure on private lands in central Oregon

October 5, 2017 at 12:01 am.  Fire season is still in effect, and MH-1 and MH-4 remain at Industrial Fire Precaution Level 1. While restrictions on campfires and warming fires has been lifted, burn barrels and burning of debris may still be prohibited.  Check with your local ODF office.
 
Restrictions on activities such as chainsaw use, off-road vehicle use and mowing of dried grass has also been lifted.  District Forester Mike Shaw stated, “With the weather forecast, and the current fuel conditions the risk of ignition from these types of activities has diminished.”  The public is reminded to exercise caution when recreating and working in the woods.
  
Following these tips will help reduce the risk of an uncontrolled fire:
  • Never leave a campfire unattended.
  • Keep the campfire small and manageable.
  • Have water and a shovel available.
  • Clear the area around the campfire to mineral soil.
  • Drown your campfire with water and stir until it is cold to touch to extinguish
  • Report any uncontrolled fire to 9-1-1.
Additional information can be found on ODF’s Fire Prevention webpage:  http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/pages/FirePrevention.aspx
 
Uncontrolled fire, or burning without a permit 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. 
 
Contact information for local ODF Offices can be found on the District’s webpage:  www.ODFcentraloregon.com

Monday, October 3, 2016

MH-1 and MH-4 drop to IFPL Level 1



MH-1 and MH-4 in The Dalles Unit will be moving to Industrial Fire Precaution Level 1 effective October 3, 2016 at 12:00 PM.  This means operators can work all day, with a one hour fire watch required following operations.  All fire tools and water supplies are still required.  Follow this link for the full Closedown Order:  IFPL Requirements.  Please call Chet Behling, Stewardship Forester in The Dalles for further information, (541)296-4626.

ODF's Central Oregon District remains in fire season, with Regulated Closure restrictions in place.  Open burning, including  warming fires, campfires, and debris burns are not allowed.  A shovel and one gallon of water (or 2 1/2 pound fire extinguisher) is required while traveling in the woods.  Public use of chainsaws is prohibited between 1:00 and 8:00 PM.  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 eight ounce or larger fire extinguisher.  In addition, a fire watch is required at least one hour following the use of each saw.  All Regulated Closure restrictions can be found here.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Stewardship Forester Elden Ward Retires

Elden Ward with his badge mounted on his retirement plaque.


Elden Ward has been a Stewardship Forester for the Prineville Unit of the Central Oregon District for nearly fifteen years.  Elden retired today, and stated his only regret was "Not coming to work for ODF sooner".  Elden will be missed by his "ODF Family" and the landowners he helped each day.

Kristin Dodd (Prineville Unit Forester) with Elden.
Fly fishing tops Elden's plans for retirement, but he also mentioned "doing some forestry stuff".  So it is likely we will see him around!





Wildfire suppression in Maury Mountains following prescribed burn

CENTRAL OREGON— Crews in the Maury Mountains are engaged in a fire suppression effort today after a wind event yesterday afternoon pushed a prescribed burn outside planned containment lines.

The Ochoco National Forest had been conducting a prescribed burn to improve the natural resources within a 333-acre unit near Elkhorn campground and Forest Road 16.
 
Around 4 pm yesterday, an unexpected reversal of wind direction associated with a storm system from the south pushed fire north of the burn unit and carried it onto private ranch lands. Firefighters are working with the private land owners, Oregon Department of Forestry, and the Post-Paulina Rangeland Protection Association to suppress the fire on both public and private land.
 
The fire size is currently about 1,200 acres with an estimated containment of 20 percent. Roughly 150 acres is on private land.
 
Following a report of the prescribed burn moving outside planned lines, the Forest Service declared it a wildfire and responded with aggressive suppression tactics. Firefighters worked until 4 am this morning with an effort that included two heavy air tankers, two single engine air tankers, a Type 1 helicopter, and multiple crews, engines, and dozers.
 
The suppression effort continues today with special emphasis on stopping the fire’s spread across private ground.
 
The Forest Service plans to implement an area closure on National Forest System lands to protect hunters and other visitors from entering the suppression area. The closure order and updated fire information will be released as soon as they are available.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fire danger remains HIGH throughout central Oregon

Cooler temperatures and shorter days mark the on-set of fall throughout central Oregon, however the change of the seasons isn’t an indicator of fire danger.  Fire danger remains HIGH throughout ODF’s Central Oregon District (COD).  The fire risk is primarily due to the lack of measurable precipitation throughout central Oregon for the past several months.  The limited moisture has kept fuel conditions dry, especially in the medium and large fuels.  Finer fuels such as grass are affected by the unstable weather patterns and can vary throughout the day.  Wind can quickly dry these fuels even after good humidity recovery from the previous night. 

Because fire danger remains high, so do the restrictions which are in place on private lands, to limit ignitions from human activities.  Firefighters from COD have responded to sixty-nine human caused fires so far this year, up from the ten-year average of fifty-seven.  In addition to these fires on ODF protected lands, COD resources have assisted federal and rural fire department partners on numerous human caused fires. 

Know Before You Go.  As you plan your activities always check to see what restrictions are in place and whose jurisdiction you are under, whether you are on public land or private land. COD remains in a Regulated Use Closure intended to reduce human caused fires.  Fire managers continue to monitor weather and fuel moisture conditions to determine what restrictions are appropriate.  A little precipitation won’t be enough to eliminate the overall fire risk, especially when warmer and dryer conditions are forecasted.

MH-1 and MH-4 areas in The Dalles Unit remain at Industrial Fire Precaution Level 2 which requires a three hour fire watch following industrial operations as well as restrictions on timing of activities such as powersaw use and cable yarding systems.

Remember, debris burning is currently not allowed on lands protected by the Central Oregon District of the Oregon Department of Forestry.  Contact information for your local ODF Office can be found on ODF’s Central Oregon District website: www.ODFcentraloregon.com.

Visit centralorfireinfo.blogspot.com/, www.fs.usda.gov/mthood or www.fs.usda.gov/malheur  for updates and changes to restrictions on public lands in central Oregon.

Please report fires to your local 911 dispatch center.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Ground-Breaking Event to be held for new Interagency Dispatch Center

     Media Alert
September 15, 2016
 
Contacts:  Heather Cassaro, City of Redmond Communications Manager, 541-504-3031
                   Kassidy Kern, Deschutes National Forest Public Affairs, 541-383-5517 

On Monday, September 19, 2016 the City of Redmond, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Oregon Department of Forestry will host a ground-breaking ceremony for the new Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center (COIDC) with the contractor for the project, Griffin Construction.
 
The event will be held at 2 p.m. at the building site, which is located adjacent to Redmond Air Center, 1740 SE Ochoco Way, in Redmond.  The event will include brief remarks from the City of Redmond, the land management agencies and Griffin Construction followed by the ceremonial breaking of the ground at the site. The building is expected to be completed by next May.  Griffin Construction operates out of Prineville, Oregon. 

Background
The Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center (COIDC) provides dispatch support and coordination for all-risk incidents for the Oregon Department of Forestry, BLM Prineville District, the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests and the Crooked River National Grassland.   
 
Currently these dispatch services are located at the Prineville Airport. The move of COIDC from the Prineville Airport to the Redmond Air Center will improve the efficiency and safety of fire mobilization operations. 
Dispatchers will be able to see the equipment, airplanes and helicopters they are dispatching and pilots will have greater accessibility to the dispatchers.  In addition, the expanded facilities will allow more people to work within the dispatch center during the height of the fire season. 
Currently, eight employees work year-round at the facility, but during the summer approximately 30 people operate out of COIDC with an additional 25 to 30 employees working out of other offices to meet the logistical needs of fire crews, smokejumpers, helicopters, air tankers, water tenders, engines and fire teams.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Board of Forestry announces new Oregon State Forester

Pictured:  Tom Imeson (Oregon Board of Forestry Chair), Peter Daugherty (new Oregon State Forester), Doug Decker (retiring Oregon State Forester)
Contact:
Ken Armstrong, Salem, ken.w.armstrong@oregon.gov, 503-945-7420

SALEM – The Oregon Board of Forestry today unanimously selected Peter Daugherty as the next State Forester, concluding a process that began in early May when current State Forester Doug Decker announced plans to retire in October at the end of the current fire season. The Board announced the selection following an executive session to discuss the final two candidates, which also included ODF Forest Grove District Forester Mike Cafferata.

“The Board is excited to announce Peter Daugherty as the Oregon’s new State Forester,” said Board Chair Tom Imeson. “Peter brings a wealth of experience, energy and credibility to this critical position.”

Daugherty currently serves as ODF’s Chief of the Private Forests Division. He takes over as the 13th State Forester since the agency’s creation in 1911.

“I’m looking forward to the privilege of working with the outstanding personnel of this agency, as well as with the dedicated stakeholders and all Oregonians who care about our forest resources,” said Daugherty. “There are many opportunities, as well as challenges facing us as we hold ourselves to a high standard of forest stewardship, and I am committed to our continuous improvement.”

The selection process included interviews with the Board, a public stakeholders group and an internal employee group, as well as meetings with the Governor. The Board sought public input on the recruitment plan and desired attributes in late June.

The Board of Forestry consists of seven citizens nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the Oregon Senate. Responsibilities include appointing the State Forester, setting management direction for state-owned forests, adopting rules governing timber harvest and other practices on private forestland, and promoting sustainable management of Oregon’s 30 million-acre forestland base. More information on the Board is available at: www.oregon.gov/ODF/Board/Pages/AboutBOF.aspx

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Drought Stress Affecting Trees in Parts of Wasco County

It’s unusual for evergreen trees to turn color in August, or any time of year for that matter, but that’s what we are experiencing in parts of Wasco County.

Over the past three years much of Oregon has experienced abnormal levels of water stress and higher than average temperatures.  This has resulted in greater tree stress and weaker defensive mechanisms to resist bark beetles.  While tree mortality from bark beetles is not uncommon, the number of trees dying is above average for this area.  The Oregon Department of Forestry recently conducted an aerial survey over parts of Wasco County and identified many areas that have been hit particularly hard in terms of drought stress.  Surveyed areas showing heightened levels of mortality range from Mosier to the White River, with the area between Eight Mile Creek and Fifteen Mile Creek being hit the hardest. 

Some forest landowners have taken a proactive approach and are currently salvaging dead and dying trees.  Often times, if salvaged soon after the needles turn color, trees will retain some market value at the mill which can help off-set the cost of removing the trees.  As part of the salvage, many landowners plan to pile the logging slash and burn the piles this fall or winter before the beetle flight occurs in the spring.  During the flight period (April through September), beetles are highly attracted to logging slash, especially newly created slash piles.  Burning slash piles before April 1st removes the food source and greatly reduces the likelihood of beetles moving into your area. 

Actively managing the forest landscape has many benefits to the landowner; for example removing dead and dying trees reduces fuel loading, and reduces the likelihood of large stand-replacing wildfires from sweeping across the landscape.  It removes stressed and weakened trees that bark beetles are largely attracted to, and significantly reduces the likelihood of a bark beetle outbreak.  It can be a source of revenue which can help off-set the costs of equipment used to salvage trees, and can help finance other projects to enhance your forest land such as maintaining or improving road systems, replacing old culverts, or planting new seedlings after harvest.  While salvaging the dead and dying material, forest land owners often take the opportunity (while the equipment is on site) to selectively thin-out competing trees and other vegetation in order to maintain a healthy growing environment for the remaining trees. 

If drought conditions persist, it is likely the situation will worsen and more hillsides will turn from green to red.  The Department of Forestry encourages landowners to be proactive in managing their forests and can provide technical forestry assistance to help in those efforts.  As a reminder, the Department of Forestry must be notified at least 15 days before you plan on harvesting trees in order to review the area for resources that may require protection.  Also, fire tools, a water trailer or water truck, and other fire equipment is required when working during fire season.  For more information contact Chet Behling (Stewardship Forester) at the Oregon Department of Forestry (541) 296-4626.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Public Urged to Report Suspicious Activity Related to Central Oregon Wildfires


Central Oregon – In the past month, Central Oregon has had numerous human caused fires. Now, Oregon State Police along with the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Forestry and Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office believe that several of those fires were intentionally started. Specific details will not be released while investigations are ongoing.

While an investigation by all cooperating agencies is in progress, we would like to urge the public to report suspicious activity on public lands by calling the Oregon State Police at 503-375-3555 or if it is an emergency, call 9-1-1.

Central Oregon is currently in the peak of its fire season and the fire danger level is EXTREME with very dry fuels and continued hot and dry weather in the forecast. The public is reminded that every wildfire puts our firefighters, visitors, residents and properties in danger.

In addition to the arson fires, our firefighters have responded to numerous abandoned or escaped campfires. Campfires should never be left unattended and should be cold to the touch whenever they are left. Additionally, please properly dispose of cigarette butts, park only in areas clear of vegetation, and in general use caution while working and recreating.

Friday, August 12, 2016

MH-4 in The Dalles Unit moves to IFPL 3



This morning MH-4 in The Dalles Unit moves to IFPL 3.

A level 3 will mainly affect:

-Hot saws are shut down at 1pm and must have an area observer and additional equipment and/or water close by.  If using a hot saw please read the attached document (Hot saw req.pdf) AND call me to discuss.  Our agency has discussed the idea of restricting hot saws altogether during a level 3, however we have decided that IF the precautions outlined in the attachment are followed closely we can prevent most fire starts; or in the event of a fire, the operator will have the necessary equipment to quickly suppress it.  In addition to the minimum restrictions and requirements, operators may want to think about voluntary precautions for hot saws on their specific operation. 

-Chain saws are not allowed to work in the unit.  Chain saws may be used at landing sites until 1 pm.
-Ground-based equipment is allowed to work until 1pm IF there is a machine with blade close by capable of constructing fire line.
-Gravity cable systems are allowed until 1pm.  Motorized carriage operations are not allowed.
-All operations are shutdown at 1pm
-There is a 3 hour fir watch in a level 3

On occasion, a waiver to the restrictions imposed by a level 3 may be considered.  Before calling ODF to discuss a waiver please do the following:

1-Perform a self-inspection on your operation to assure all fire tools, water, and equipment are up-to-speed.

2-Perform a fire drill with employees.  Items to discuss: make sure water wagon is unlocked during operations and during fire watch; discuss what fire watch will do and who (and how) they will call for help; make sure all employees know how to operate water wagon; make sure hitches are compatible with water wagon; if waiver is issued truck must be hooked up to water wagon regardless of how many gallons in wagon, both during operations and fire watch period.  

3-Move water wagon as close as practicable to your equipment.

4-Be prepared to suggest additional prevention and/or suppression measures such as building dozer line around unit, providing more water or multiple water wagons, firing up water wagon each morning, having 2 workers as a fire watch, have fire watch camp out on or near the job site etc.

5-Call Chet Behling(541-296-4626) for an inspection, if one hasn't been done already on your specific job site.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Central Oregon is Home to the First and 100th Oregon Firewise Community

August 10, 2016

Contact: Alison Green, Program Director
    Project Wildfire, FireFree
    541-419-1116

Deschutes County’s residents in the wildland urban interface (WUI) have been embracing their responsibility of living with wildfire for almost two decades. Now not only is Deschutes County proudly the home to the very first Firewise Community in the state but also to the 100th Firewise Community. Fall River Estates south of Sunriver was the very first Firewise Community in Oregon and Deschutes County twelve years ago. Squaw Creek Canyon Estates outside of Sisters is now the 100th Community to commit to their own wildfire preparedness by being recognized as a Firewise Community.

Since 2002, The Firewise Communities, USA Recognition Program has empowered neighbors to work together in reducing their wildfire risk. After 14 short years, the growing network includes over 1,300 recognized Firewise Communities in 40 states nationwide who are taking action and ownership in preparing and protecting their homes against the threat of wildfire. Communities develop an action plan that guides their residential risk reduction activities, while engaging and encouraging their neighbors to become active participants in building a safer place to live.

“Wildfire preparedness is an ongoing process for all the residents of central Oregon,” says Alison Green, Program Coordinator for Project Wildfire.  “The Firewise program allows for the grass root movements within each neighborhood to increase the responsibility of each individual resident to create defensible space at their own home and increase the chances of the whole neighborhood surviving a wildfire,” she adds.

"We are honored to host this event as the 100th Oregon Firewise Community in the Sisters area, but everyone should know that it took thousands of residents throughout the state of Oregon to reach to this milestone,” says Gary Marshall, Fire Safety Manager for Sisters Camp Sherman Fire. “By taking personal responsibility for their wildfire preparedness, residents reduced flammable vegetation near their homes and replaced flammable roofing with fire resistive materials to better adapted to wildfire in central Oregon," Marshall adds.

On August 12th, 2016 at 11:30 am Squaw Creek Canyon Estates will be hosting a celebration for all the partners and local Firewise Communities at the fire station in the community. Station 703 is located at 17233 Buffalo Drive, Sisters, OR. All are welcome to join to celebrate central Oregon’s continued commitment to Firewise and wildfire preparedness overall.

For more information on Firewise visit www.firewise.org and for more information on Project Wildfire visit www.projectwildfire.org.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Neal Creek Fire Update August 5, 2016—Evening

Crews made significant progress today on the Neal Creek Fire, improving the fireline and mopping-up the interior of the fire.  While the fire is producing a light haze in the area, fire behavior is significantly reduced due to today’s suppression activities.  David Jacobs, The Dalles Unit Forester, describes the fire as “Looking real good.  Today went just like the plan.”  The “plan” included getting hose lines all around the fire and plumbing in to the creek at the bottom of the hill, for a continuous water source.  Firefighters were able to use the hoselays to mop-up fifty feet inside the fire line, extinguishing any hot spots and burning material.  The fire is currently 75% contained.
This evening a five person hand crew and two engines will monitor the fire.  Tomorrow morning the four twenty person hand crews, two engines and other overhead will return to the fire and continue mop-up activities.

The firefighters were able to use GPS today to map the fire at 15.5 acres. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Fire crews will continue to use the Hood River County Fairgrounds for firecamp.

Red Flag Warning Across Central Oregon District

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for most of the Central Oregon District for scattered thunderstorms producing dry lightning and gusty winds starting later this afternoon.  Warm temperatures over the last few weeks have dried fuels and driven ERC (measurement related to how well fuels will burn based on moisture content) to Extreme levels. In preparation for this event the District is bringing in a strike team of engines (five engines and a strike team leader) from western Oregon to work with local District resources.  These engines should arrive mid-afternoon today. 
A Type 1 helicopter was planned to arrive in the District this afternoon, but was brought in early this morning to provide support for the Neal Creek Fire.  Fire managers have planned an infrared flight for early Saturday morning to detect fires before temperatures heat up and fires begin to spread.  This flight will be in response to the storm pattern, and could be cancelled if storms do not occur.  Additionally, several contract dozers have been placed on standby throughout the District to respond as needed. 

With the potential for multiple starts from thunderstorms across the landscape these resources will support the safe and aggressive initial attack action the District has been using all summer.  Keeping fires small reduces firefighter exposure, landowner costs and limits damage to resources.

Neal Creek Fire—ODF Central Oregon District Update--August 5, 2016


[The Dalles, Ore.]  The Neal Creek Fire was reported around 4:00 PM August 4, burning in dense second growth Douglas-fir on steep terrain approximately eight miles south of Hood River.  The fire is burning on private land protected by ODF’s The Dalles Unit.  SEAT’s and heavy air tankers were used late into the evening to check the spread of the fire and allow firefighters on the ground to flank the fire.  Overnight fire crews were able to establish a handline around the perimeter of the fire.  Today firefighters will strengthen containment lines and work to suppress hot spots adjacent to the fireline. 
Temperatures in the area will be warm today, with winds gusting to 30 mph which could push these containment lines.  Four twenty person hand crews and two engines will be working on the fire today with support from two helicopters using buckets to drop water on hot spots.  The fire has difficult access, firefighters will be establishing hoselays to get water to the interior of the fire for mop-up activities.

The fire is approximately 15 acres in size and is 50% contained.  Over the next few days crews will work to mop-up 100% of the fire.  The cause of the fire is under investigation but is believed to be human caused.
Fuel conditions throughout the Central Oregon District are extreme.  Thunderstorms are expected throughout much of eastern Oregon as a storm system moves through the region.  These storms could ignite fires, further stressing available firefighting resources.  The public is asked to follow all fire prevention measures to limit potential human caused fires.       

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Neal Creek Fire--The Dalles Unit

More info on the Neal Creek Fire located 8 miles south of Hood River will be updated here. 

Contact Christie Shaw Central Oregon District Public Information Officer for more info.  541-263-0661

Updated 8:45 PM

The Neal Creek Fire was reported earlier this evening burning in dense second growth Douglas-fir on steep terrain approximately eight miles south of Hood River, Oregon in ODF’s The Dalles Unit.  The fire is estimated to be approximately 15 acres.  Resources on scene include ten fire engines from ODF, BLM and USFS and additional engines from local rural fire departments, a dozer, two Single Engine Air Tankers, 1 helicopter, and three heavy air tankers.
Firefighters are using the helicopter, SEAT’s and heavy air tankers to limit the forward spread of the fire as crews on the ground flank the fire with handline and wetline to contain the fire.  Crews will be working through the night to contain the fire with additional resources arriving through the night. A five person ODF hand crew from Sisters and two twenty person hand crews are currently on their way to the fire.  An additional three hand crews and other overhead will staff the fire starting at six am Friday morning.

Cause of the fire is under investigation.

Human Caused Fires on the Rise as Fire Danger Becomes Extreme in Central Oregon

[Central Oregon]  So far this year fires caused by lightning are significantly less than the ten year average in central Oregon.  After the last three challenging fire seasons which started early in the summer firefighters should feel relief, except human caused fires are on the rise both on ODF protected lands and on lands protected by our partners such as USFS, BLM and Rural Fire Districts.  August is typically the busiest part of fire season in Oregon and heading into the first weekend the forecast includes lightning.  Along with that forecast comes “Extreme” fire conditions, fuels are dry and temperatures are warm.  The increase in human caused fires adds to firefighter fatigue and drains resources which may be needed to suppress non-preventable fires.  As of July 25th the National Preparedness Level was raised to Level 3, which means significant wildfire activity is occurring in multiple Geographic Areas of the US and resources in a Geographic Area are likely not sufficient to support action on a large fire.  There are currently three large fires burning in Oregon, all human caused.  The potential for additional/multiple starts from thunderstorms this weekend combined with the fire activity from human starts over the last few weeks concerns fire managers as we enter the heart of fire season.
Being prepared for fire season is a common theme throughout the spring and summer months, focusing on creating defensible space for your home, fuel reduction activities, and creating evacuation plans.  Preventing the next wildfire is equally as important, maybe more so.  Visitors and residents share this responsibility, starting with adhering to fire prevention closures, which are in effect.  The following activities are restricted by fire prevention closures:  

·        Smoking is prohibited while traveling, except in vehicles on improved roads.
·        Open fires are prohibited, including campfires, debris burning, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires, except in designated areas.  Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are allowed.
·        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.
·        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.
·        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.
·        Mowing of dried grass with power driven equipment is prohibited, between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., except for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.
·        Use of fireworks and blasting is prohibited.  

In addition to these restrictions the use of tracer ammunition, exploding targets and sky lanterns is prohibited during fire season. 

Travis Medema, ODF’s Eastern Oregon Area Director is concerned about the trend, stating, “While the 2016 fire season in central and eastern Oregon has started slower than the previous three—human caused fires have dominated the landscape at a cost to all Oregonians.”  Those costs are more than just dollars spent fighting the fire, it is impacts to air and water quality, and increased exposure for firefighters.  Medema adds, “We are urging everyone to be safe, mindful of the fire danger, prepared for a wildfire in your community and partner with us to reduce the next human caused fire.” 

Please report all fires to your local 911 dispatch center immediately.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Dalles Unit: IFPL 3 to be in effect for MH-1 July 29, 2016

https://geo.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=41424358763949deb16e3f513e748844
Click Map for Statewide Current Fire Restrictions
STATE OF OREGON
DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY
INDUSTRIAL FIRE PRECAUTION LEVEL 3
CLOSEDOWN ORDER

Number 03

Effective 12:01 a.m., PDT, July 29, 2016

By virtue of the authority vested in me by ORS 477.625, ORS 477.670, and OAR 629-043-0070, I hereby issue notice the following subject area is susceptible to damage by fire and proclaim Industrial Fire Precaution Level 3 to be in effect:

All lands protected by the Central Oregon Forest Protection District, in regulated use area MH-1 and all forestland within one-eighth mile thereof.
Under Industrial Fire Precaution Level 3, the use of fire or power-driven machinery in any operation area is unlawful unless such use is in compliance with the following:
Partial Shutdown: The following activities are not permitted at any time, except as noted:
  1. Cable yarding systems, except that gravity operated logging systems using non-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).
  2. Power saws, except power saws may operate at loading sites and on tractor or skidder operations between 8:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m.
In addition, the following activities are permitted to operate between 8:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. local time:
  1. Tractor, skidder, feller-buncher, forwarder, or shovel logging operations where  tractors, skidders, or other equipment with a blade capable of constructing a fireline are immediately available to quickly reach and effectively attack a fire start.
  2. Mechanized loading or hauling of any product or material
  3. Blasting, welding or cutting of metal
  4. Any other spark emitting activity not specifically mentioned.
The State Forester or an authorized representative may, in writing, approve a modification or waiver of these requirements.

These restrictions shall remain in effect until replaced or terminated by an additional Closedown Order of the State Forester or an authorized representative.

Maps of the subject area may be viewed at the State Forester's Office, in Salem, Oregon, and at principal offices of the Forest Protection District.

Definitions of words and phrases used in this proclamation may be found in ORS 477.001, OAR 629-041-0005.

MH-1 and MH-4 Industrial Fire Precaution Level 2 as of July 25, 2016

Link to Statewide Fire Restriction Map
Click map for statewide map of current fire restrictions.

STATE OF OREGON

DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY

INDUSTRIAL FIRE PRECAUTION LEVEL 2

CLOSEDOWN ORDER

 Number 02
 
Effective 10:00 a.m., PDT, July 25, 2016

By virtue of the authority vested in me by ORS 477.625, ORS 477.670, and OAR 629-043-0070, I hereby issue notice the following subject area is susceptible to damage by fire and proclaim Industrial Fire Precaution Level 2 to be in effect:

All lands protected by the Central Oregon Forest Protection District, in regulated use areas MH-1 and MH-4 and all forestland within one-eighth mile thereof.
                                                        
Under Industrial Fire Precaution Level 2, the use of fire or power-driven machinery in any operation area is unlawful unless such use is in compliance with the following:

Partial Shutdown: The following activities are not permitted between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., except as noted:

1.     Power saws, except power saws may operate at loading sites.
2.     Cable yarding
3.     Blasting
4.     Welding or cutting of metal

The State Forester or an authorized representative may, in writing, approve a modification or waiver of these requirements.

These restrictions shall remain in effect until replaced or terminated by an additional Closedown Order of the State Forester or an authorized representative.

Maps of the subject area may be viewed at the State Forester's Office, in Salem, Oregon, and at principal offices of the Forest Protection District.

Definitions of words and phrases used in this proclamation may be found in ORS 477.001, OAR 629-041-0005.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wildfire Evacuation Planning

Ready, Set, Go!  These are familiar words at a track meet, but in the case of a wildfire, Ready, Set, Go has a much different implication.  Here in central Oregon we are settling into a much quieter beginning to fire season than we have seen in recent memory—but all that can change in an instant.  One careless action or a single lightning strike could bring flames to your door.  Creating a Wildfire Evacuation Plan now can help ensure that you don’t forget essential items and that everyone makes it out safely.  If you live in the forest or the Wildland Urban Interface now is the time to be Ready.  Being Ready to evacuate helps emergency personnel focus on the fire and gives you and your family the best chance of surviving a wildfire.  Take the time now to develop a Wildfire Evacuation Plan.  Share it with your family, so everyone knows what to do if a wildfire starts nearby and you are notified to evacuate.  Talk to your neighbors about Ready, Set, Go so they will be prepared as well.

Key pieces to your evacuation plan include:
  • Home Evacuation Checklist
  • Practicing several escape routes from your home to a safe location.
  • Designating a meeting location, well away from the home. 
  • A plan for evacuating pets and livestock.  Plan for how to get them out, and where you will take them.
  • Assemble an Emergency Supply Kit
  • A family communication plan—someone everyone can call and check-in with.  Identify emergency numbers you need to have with you and keep these numbers readily available, with copies in your Emergency Supply Kit.
A family communication plan—someone everyone can call and check-in with.  Identify emergency numbers you need to have with you and keep these numbers readily available, with copies in your Emergency Supply Kit.
Remember that safe locations for meeting, staging, and placing pets should be well away from the hazard area.  You may need to have more than one location identified depending on the location of the fire.  Your neighbor’s house is not a suitable meeting place.

The six P’s

Keep these Ready in case of evacuation
  • People and pets
  • Papers, phone numbers & important documents
  • Prescriptions, vitamins, & eyeglasses
  • Pictures & irreplaceable memorabilia
  • Personal computer hard drive, disks and storage devices
  • Plastic” (credit cards, ATM cards) and cash
www.readyforwildfire.org/  has additional information to help you prepare for a wildfire, including developing your Home Evacuation Checklist and Wildfire Evacuation Plan.

Ready your home by creating defensible space free from flammable vegetation and ladder fuels.  Your home is more likely to survive a wildfire if you have screened in underneath porches or decks, have fire resistant siding and roofing materials, and have removed flammable debris from roof and gutters.  Visit FIREFREE’s website, www.firefree.org/?page_id=29, for more information on preparing your home for wildfire.
READY, SET, GO!—What does it mean?
READY  LEVEL 1: A Level 1 Evacuation means “BE READY” for potential evacuation.  Residents should be aware of the danger that exists in their area, monitor emergency services websites and local media outlets for information. This is the time for preparation and precautionary movement of persons with special needs, mobile property and (under certain circumstances) pets and livestock. If conditions worsen, emergency services personnel may contact you via an emergency notification system.
SET  LEVEL 2: A Level 2 Evacuation means “BE SET” to evacuate. 
YOU MUST PREPARE TO LEAVE AT A MOMENTS NOTICE
This level indicates there is significant danger to your area, and residents should either voluntarily relocate to a shelter or with family/friends outside of the affected area, or if choosing to remain, to be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice.  Residents MAY have time to gather necessary items, but doing so is at their own risk.
THIS MAY BE THE ONLY NOTICE THAT YOU RECEIVE
Emergency services cannot guarantee that they will be able to notify you if conditions rapidly deteriorate. Area media services will be asked to broadcast periodic updates.
GO LEVEL 3: A Level 3 Evacuation means “GO” Evacuate NOW
LEAVE IMMEDIATELY!
Danger to your area is current or imminent, and you should evacuate immediately. If you choose to ignore this advisement, you must understand that emergency services may not be available to assist you further. DO NOT delay leaving to gather any belongings or make efforts to protect your home.
THIS WILL BE THE LAST NOTICE THAT YOU RECEIVE
Entry to evacuated areas may be denied until conditions are safe.  Area radio and TV stations have been asked to broadcast periodic updates.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Familiar Faces in New Roles for ODF in Central Oregon


Rob Pentzer, Assistant District Forester
Central Oregon District
[John Day, Ore.]  Rob Pentzer has been selected as the Assistant District Forester for ODF’s Central Oregon District (COD).  Pentzer has been part of COD since 2012, serving as the John Day Unit Forester during some very challenging fire seasons.  Rob is a graduate of the University of Idaho, with a B.S. in Forest Ecosystem Management.  He has extensive knowledge of forestry and wildland fire from his time with ODF, and his prior experience with Idaho Department of Lands.
Rob will continue to work from the John Day office as the Assistant District Forester.  His desire to remain part of the community allows for an opportunity for COD to add capacity at a higher level in this part of the District.  Rob has been a valuable leader as the John Day Unit Forester; his leadership skills and the relationships Rob has built with landowners and cooperators will serve him well in his new role.  Rob started in his new position in May. 

John Day Unit Forester Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller was selected to fill the John Day Unit Forester position vacated by Pentzer.  Ryan has been the Stewardship Forester in John Day for the last two years, working with private landowners to administer the Forest Practices Act and landowner assistance programs.  He started with ODF as a seasonal firefighter in Dallas in 1998, accepting a permanent position in ODF’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Unit in 2000 after completing his Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Geography from Western Oregon University.  Ryan has worked in the State Forests and Private Forests Divisions, in addition to his GIS positions and his recent work as the John Day Stewardship Forester.  His diverse background in the agency and strong communication skills provide a strong base for Ryan as the John Day Unit Forester.
Ryan, his wife Elisha and their son Henry have made John Day their home.

For more information on ODF’s Central Oregon District visit www.ODFcentraloregon.com.



Friday, July 8, 2016

Limited Moisture Not Enough to Reduce Fire Danger

While central Oregon is in a pattern of cooler than normal weather, and has received precipitation over the last twenty-four hours, fire danger remains high.  The US Drought Monitor for Oregon issued on July 7, 2016, indicates that most lands within the Central Oregon District (COD) fall into the “abnormally dry” category.  This reflects what fire managers are seeing in the forest and current fuel moisture conditions.  Now into Oregon’s fifth year of drought conditions, we continue to see the long term affects to the down material and live vegetation stressed from limited water.

For the next few days firefighters will benefit from the moisture, because it will be more difficult for a “spark” to ignite a fire and rapidly spread.  This is because of the increased moisture in the fine fuels, but these fuels will quickly dry out even with the moderate temperatures expected over the next few days.  “The biggest concern for us now, during the heart of fire season, is that someone assumes the rain has made it safe to burn.  When surrounding fuels dry out in the days following a debris burn, the remnants of that debris burn rekindle and spread to wildland fuels while no one is watching”, states Mike Shaw, Central Oregon District Forester. 

Debris burning is not allowed on lands protected by the Central Oregon District of the Oregon Department of Forestry.  Contact information for your local ODF Office can be found on ODF’s Central Oregon District website: www.ODFcentraloregon.com. 

COD remains in a Regulated Use Closure intended to reduce human caused fires.  Year to date there have been thirty-six human caused fires within the District, primarily related to debris burning.  This number is significantly higher than the ten year average of twenty-eight (for the same time period).  These fires are preventable, causing concern for firefighters and fire managers.  While fire managers have the ability to use modern technology to track thunderstorms and staff with additional resources, human caused fires do not allow that as they occur at random times. 

Please report fires to your local 911 dispatch center.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Wassen Fire Pond Update | July 5, 2016

[The Dalles Unit, Central Oregon District] - The Wassen Pond Fire was reported at about 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 3, burning four miles west of The Dalles on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry and Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue.

The fire remains at 300 acres this morning (about 30 acres on ODF jurisdiction) and is 75 percent contained. Line construction will continue today to fully contain the fire.

The fire is under Unified Command between ODF and MCFR. Cause remains under investigation.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Wassen Pond Fire

 [The Dalles Unit, Central Oregon District] - The Wassen Pond Fire was reported at about 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 3, burning four miles west of The Dalles on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry and Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue.  The fire, under Unified Command between ODF and MCFR, is currently approximately 180 acres (with most of that acreage on MCFR), and hand- and dozer-lined.  Additional resources from ODF, rural fire departments in the area, and the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area are assisting with this fire.  Cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Fire officials in the Columbia River Gorge urge the public to be extremely cautious and wildfire-safe, particularly with fireworks, as firefighting resources are stretched thin in the area and a Red Flag Warning for high winds and low humidity is in effect.
 
Published from the Oregon Department of Forestry Daily Fire Update | Monday, July 4, 2016

Thursday, June 30, 2016

ODF Implements Regulated Use Closure on Lands Protected by Central Oregon District

Prineville, Ore—Lands protected by ODF’s Central Oregon District (COD) will be placed under a Regulated Use Closure beginning Friday July 1, 2016 at 12:01 am.  The Regulated Use Closure applies to private, county, and state owned lands protected by COD in Deschutes, Grant, Hood River, Wasco, Wheeler, Crook, Jefferson, Morrow, Harney, Umatilla, Lake, and Gilliam counties.  The intent of the Closure is to limit human caused wildfires.  Recent high temperatures have dried wildland fuels and increased the danger of large fire growth.  Human caused fires in COD are above the ten year average for the District, which concerns fire managers as we enter the heart of fire season with dry fuels, warm temperatures and an increasing possibility of lightning caused fires. 

The full Regulated Use Closure Proclamation can be found on the Central Oregon District website:  www.ODFcentraloregon.com. The official Closure includes, but is not limited to the following activities: 
  • 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.  A map of designated areas is available on COD's website under Fire Information.  Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are allowed.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mowing of dried grass with power driven equipment is prohibited, between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., except for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.
  • Use of fireworks and blasting is prohibited.

 
Open fires are allowed by permit only, please contact your local ODF office for information.  Exploding targets, tracer ammunition and sky lanterns are prohibited during fire season.


For information on restrictions on public lands contact your local US Forest Service ranger district office or Bureau of Land Management district office.