Extreme heat advisories, with triple-digit temperatures and low humidity, have been issued for this week in much of Oregon. Southwest Oregon will see the highest temperatures, with Medford’s predicted to reach 114 degrees. When this pattern shifts towards the end of the week, thunderstorms are likely to follow. Fire danger levels on many of Oregon's forestlands already range from High to Extreme and this week’s weather conditions will continue to increase large fire potential across the landscape.
Current Fire Activity:
Overall, ODF is tracking slightly higher than our 10-year average for numbers of fires at 500 fires on ODF-protected land. In contrast, our acres burned to-date remains at less than 10 percent of our 10-year average. So far this year about 1,300 acres have burned on ODF-protected land compared to a 10-year average of 19,663 for this date.
As anticipated, this past week was extremely active with lightning fires. In Klamath and Lake Counties alone we had over 100 fires start within 24-hours. Significant resources were deployed early in the week to keep the majority of these fires at 10 acres or less. The largest fire on ODF protection (Crane Fire) reached 602 acres and is now contained. A second wave of lightning came across northeast Oregon. In response, we mobilized resources to this region and experienced great success in keeping fires small. In western Oregon, heavy timber fires are now on the rise with the largest fire (Burnt Peak - 31 acres) currently burning 13 miles northeast of Shady Cove; crews are close to containment on this fire.
Our initial attack success this year has been exceptional. It takes a coordinated effort with our forest landowner partners, the structure fire service, contractors and cooperating agencies to realize this type of success and I’m grateful for that partnership. We have responded to fires every day in July. Our Severity Program resources (mainly aviation assets, such as air tankers and helicopters) have been critical in keeping fires small. To-date, our air tankers and helicopters have flown 376 hours fighting fires.
Across the state and region there remains significant fire activity currently outside of ODF protection, including:
· US Forest Service: All of these fires have difficult access, pose challenging firefighting conditions and are expected to grow given this week’s weather forecast. ODF is engaging in all these fires to ensure our interests are represented.
o Chetco Bar (2,400 acres – 0% contained) is burning in the 2002 Biscuit Fire scar,16 miles west of Selma.
o Indian Creek (74 acres – 0% contained) 5 miles southeast of Cascade Locks.
o Whitewater (167 acres – 10% contained) 15 miles east of Detroit.
o Blanket Creek (625 acres – 5% contained) 9 miles NE of Prospect.
· Oregon’s Rangeland Fires: The Rangeland Fire Protection Associations, along with BLM, have had their hands full with a number of large fires this past week. The below list clearly demonstrates some excellent coordination and firefighting efforts across the range this year; many thanks to these volunteer organizations.
o Emmerson (10,618 acres – 100% contained) 4 miles northeast of Madras.
o Upper Mine (4,135 acres – 95% contained) 8 miles south of Fields.
o Dry Creek Buttes (3,000 acres – 100% contained) 23 miles SW of Adrian.
o Oxbow (1,454 acres - 100% contained) 12 miles southwest of Adrian.
o Haystack Rock (500 acres – 100% contained) 11 miles west of Adrian.
Regional Fire Activity: California and the northern Rockies are experiencing an increase in wildfires similar to Oregon and Washington. The Modoc July Complex (44,000 acres – 40% contained) is burning in California, three miles south of our border at the Lake/Klamath County line. ODF local fire leadership is fully engaged with the California Incident Management Team assigned. Local ODF is fully engaged with pro-active operational work, working closely with both large and small landowners building contingency fire line to prevent fire from coming into Oregon or if it crosses into Oregon. ODF has reached out to local officials to maintain close coordination/communication.
Other resource draw down:
Also of note, fire activity in British Columbia has been “unprecedented.” Some staggering statistics for British Columbia to-date include: over one-million acres burned, 45,000 people evacuated from their homes and businesses, and over 40 air tankers, 200 helicopters and 4,000 fire fighters currently engaged in fire suppression.
Given the fire outlook and current fire activity, we are anticipating more challenging air quality conditions due to wildfire smoke in the near future. You can stay up-to-date about current smoke levels on Oregon's smoke blog at www.oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/. This site is an effort by many city, county, tribal, state and federal agencies to coordinate and aggregate information for Oregon communities affected by wildfire smoke. The information is posted here by the agencies while volunteers built and are maintaining the page.
2017 Fire Season Financials:
To date, ODF’s gross large fire costs are at $2.9 million. For this point in the season, this is exceptionally good, given that our 10-year average for gross large fire costs for a fire season is $34 million. There is still a long way to go as we enter our most active wildfire month - August - when we typically experience approximately 280 fires and 13,000 acres burned on ODF-protected lands. The department initiated its second large fire financial tracking report to the Legislative Fiscal Office and Chief Financial Office today and will continue these reports throughout fire season.
Solar Eclipse – Fire Readiness and Response:
The mission for the department during the eclipse remains the same – aggressive initial and extended attack to keep fires small, and minimize cost and resource loss. As you would expect, ODF will be fully staffed the week of the eclipse, pre-positioning helicopters, air tankers and firefighters in areas of high fire occurrence and where there are planned eclipse events. ODF also plans to leverage our partners’ aviation resources. We are doing so to ensure the aerial delivery of firefighters for initial attack and extrication capabilities are readily available. This will provide for firefighter safety and mitigate the risk of delays on our traditional travel routes. As the event approaches, I will provide more details on our fire-readiness activities.
The following websites offer information from state and national perspectives:
· ODF wildfire blog, updated regularly: http://
· ODF Twitter account with frequent updates: https://twitter.com/
· ODF- Significant Fire Potential Map: http://nfdrs.smkmgt.com/sfp/
· Northwest Coordination Center - Regional Update: http://gacc.nifc.gov/nwcc/
· Inciweb, a national incident information site that can be sorted by state: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/
· National Situation Report: http://www.nifc.gov/nicc/