FIRE RESTRICTIONS: -Fire Season began June 7, 2017. Read about the restrictions.
MH1 and MH4 IFPL: -IFPL 3 as of July 14, 2017. Read about the restrictions.

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.