October 20, 2017

Oregon fire season officially over

From Oregon Dept. of Forestry
An Oregon Army National Guard CH-47 Chinook helicopter, with 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation Regiment, dumps a 2,000-gallon capacity Bambi Bucket amid smoke over the Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area in support of firefighting efforts at the Whitewater Fire on August 5, 2017. The Oregon National Guard was called upon following Governor Kate Brown's emergency order on August 2. Approximately 25 personnel and two Chinook helicopters are currently assigned to assist Oregon Department of Forestry with the fire. (Photo by Capt. Leslie Reed, Joint Force Headquarters Public Affairs)
FIRE SEASON HAS ENDED ON ALL LANDS STATEWIDE PROTECTED BY THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY

SALEM, Ore. -- Fire season has officially ended on all private and public lands protected by Oregon Department of Forestry districts statewide. The last district to end its fire season -- the Southwest Oregon District covering Josephine and Jackson counties -- did so this morning at 9 a.m.

Although fire season began a few weeks later this year because of a wet winter and spring in much of the state, fuels over the summer quickly dried out. Statewide across all jurisdictions there were almost 2,000 wildfires this year. About half of those started on the 16.2 million acres of forestland protected by ODF. However, of the approximately 678,000 acres burned by wildfire in Oregon this year, only about 6 percent was land protected by ODF.

The estimated 42,000 acres that burned on ODF-protected land this year was about 35 percent above the 10-year average of 34,000 acres annually. Nearly half that amount -- some 20,000 acres -- occurred when a single lightning-caused fire spread from a wilderness area onto private and Bureau of Land Management lands in Curry County. In all, the Chetco Bar Fire burned some 191,125 acres, making it the largest wildfire this year in Oregon and one of the larger fires this century.

Lightning storms -- which were unusually absent last year -- started hundreds of wildfires across Oregon, especially in August. ODF's Southwest Oregon District alone responded to more than a hundred lightning fires this season, followed by the Klamath-Lake District with 57 lightning fires, Central Oregon with 44 and Northeast Oregon with 36. All other districts combined reported 37 lightning-caused wildfires.
While lightning significantly contributed to fire starts this year, humans caused the majority of wildfires on ODF-protected land in every district except Northeast Oregon. Regardless of cause, ODF crews and their cooperators succeeded in putting out the great majority of all wildfires quickly at less than 10 acres, and with no fatalities and fewer injuries than average.

The start and end of fire season are set by each district based on the fuel conditions in their area. The arrival of steady, soaking rain coupled with cooler temperatures and shorter day lengths usually triggers the closure of fire season.

The end of fire season removes restrictions on ODF-protected lands intended to prevent wildfire, such as on backyard debris burning and use of certain equipment. Many structural fire departments in Oregon, however, still require a permit for debris burning, so check with your local fire department before starting a burn.

"Fires can start even outside of fire season, so it's always wise to be careful when burning a debris pile," said ODF Fire Prevention Coordinator Tom Fields. "Never leave a burn pile unattended and always make sure it is dead out before leaving." Fields also says to return to the area periodically to double check for heat and smoke. Debris piles can hold heat for several weeks and come back to life under dry, windy conditions.

For more tips on how to keep yourself, your loved ones and your property safe from wildfire at any time of year, visit ODF's Fire Prevention webpage at http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/pages/FirePrevention.aspx or go to the Keep Oregon Green website at KeepOregonGreen.org

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