News You can Use: Fire activity has escalated over the past 48 hours

Roblan State
Fire Chief Report


It has been a few weeks since Oregon's Chief Fire Protection Officers' update: Fire activity has escalated over the past 48 hours

Current Fire Activity

Increased winds, hot and dry conditions, holdover lightning fires and 4th of July fires have all contributed to increased fire activity this week. On ODF-protected lands, we have several significant fires:


  • Lobster Creek Fire. 10 miles northeast of Gold Beach started on 1 July and burned into private forestlands. ODF Incident Management Team 3 (Link Smith, Incident Commander) assumed command of the fire on 2 July. The 397-acre fire is 75% contained with no additional growth expected. The fire was human caused, is under investigation and is scheduled to transition back to the local district (Coos Forest Protective Association) tomorrow.


  • Memaloose Park Fire.  Near Rowena, this fire started late Friday, jumped Interstate 84 and is threatening the community of Rowena Dell.  Information on current evacuation levels can be found on the Wasco County Sheriff’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/WascoCountySheriff/.  Highway 30 is closed from Marsh Cutoff Road east to the Rowena interchange. Memaloose State Park is closed to new campers trying to enter the campground.  Campers who left the campground during the firefighting activity are now allowed to re-enter.  Unified command has been established between Oregon Department of Forestry, Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue and the U.S. Forest Service Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.  The fire is currently held at 65 acres with fire lines and resources on scene.  The fire is human caused and under investigation.


  • Klamathon Fire. Specifics are in the attached document. In summary: this is an explosive fire that started the afternoon of 5 July in California. It has burned 21,800 acres and has now burned 1,000 acres into Oregon on BLM lands.  ODF is in unified command with Cal Fire, with Incident Commander Tim Keith representing Oregon.  Multiple communities are threatened, 15 structures have been destroyed, 750 people are currently evacuated and one civilian fatality is confirmed. Southerly winds that had driven the fire into Oregon are now subsiding and we are aggressively attacking the head of the fire.  We plan to make significant progress as we see a 48-hour window of opportunity with limited winds to establish and reinforce fire lines necessary to minimize further spread into Oregon.

 

Other significant fires in Oregon include:

  • Telephone Hill Fire. 10 miles N of Fields, started 4 July, is human caused and under investigation. The fire is 1,212 acres and is now 100% contained. Excellent work by local resources including the range land protective association and BLM to contain this fire.

Fire Report image

An interactive map of all large fires in Oregon and Washington can be found here. 

ODF Protected Lands (approximately 16 million acres of private and public lands) -- To date, ODF has experienced 347 fires with a total of approximately 4,500 acres burned.  Our 10-year average at this time is 252 fires and 1,842 acres burned.  As anticipated with early season drying in May and June, fire conditions are several weeks ahead of normal for this time of year.

Weather outlook:

Fire managers are expecting some reprieve from this week’s windy and hot conditions over the weekend.  Sunday will be a transition day back to a warming trend that will continue to carry us well into fire season.  Fortunately, there is no lightning predicted in the near future, as this warming trend continues for the foreseeable future. 

Smoke impacts:

Currently, smoke is not an issue to the extent experienced last year. You can stay current on smoke levels on Oregon's smoke blog at www.oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/. This site is a joint effort by city, county, tribal, state and federal agencies to coordinate and aggregate information for Oregon communities affected by wildfire smoke.

Financials:

ODF gross large fire costs for fire season 2018 are currently estimated at $3.8 million. Our 10-year average for gross large fire costs is at $34 million, of which the majority of this exposure is during the months of July, August and September.  We have received a FEMA – Fire Management Assistance Grant declaration for the Graham Fire and this will provide financial assistance (75% of suppression costs) that will help minimize costs to the state and forest landowners who share the cost of large fire up to $20 million.  Attached, I have provided the large fire funding framework for the state of Oregon which is unique nationally in its partnership with forest landowners (Oregon Forestland Protection Fund) and the state’s catastrophic wildfire insurance policy with Lloyd’s of London.

Consistent with past years, the Department will be closely tied with the Legislative Fiscal Office and Chief Financial Office over the duration of the fire season to maintain full awareness on fire season costs.

Additional Information Sources Include: 


Our mission is clear and we will work closely with all partners, striving to minimize acres burned, resource loss and cost from wildfires.  As always, feel free to contact me or Deputy Chief Ron Graham directly with any questions.