Wildfires

Northwest wildfires have had widespread effects on travel and air quality. Another unfortunate consequence is a critically low blood supply.

Several compounding factors have squeezed the blood supply. Mobile donation drivers can’t get to some rural sites, and university and high school drives aren’t yet running. There are other reasons, too, says Cynthia Vignos of the Lane Blood Center:

Haze Settles Over Western Oregon

Aug 23, 2015
Anni Katz

Monday’s air quality is slightly improved in Eugene, Springfield and Cottage Grove. Oakridge continues to have unhealthy levels of particulate matter due to smoke from the area’s wildfires. That’s according to the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency.

Lane Regional Air Protection Agency

Air quality in the south Willamette Valley declined earlier this week due to smoke from wildfires in southern Oregon and northern California. A new fire south of Eugene has further increased risks. Residents may need to prepare for a long stretch of hazy conditions.

http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4426/

Firefighters continue to battle two large wildfires in Douglas County. The Cable Crossing fire is located just east of Glide. It's currently burning at more than 1,000 acres. Tom Fields is a Public Information Officer for The Department of Forestry. He says the hot dry weather helped to fuel the fire Thursday and Friday.

Fields: "Also, it's very tough, steep terrain. It's tough to put firefighters down in those positions. So, some of our tactics that we will be using is to do some control burnout operations with established containment lines."

https://www.facebook.com/DouglasForestProtectiveAssociation

A fire burning west of Roseburg jumped its lines last (Wednesday) night, and has expanded to an estimated 600 acres. Here is an update on the Cable Crossing Fire.

The fire off highway 138 near Glide started Tuesday afternoon. Kyle Reed, with the Douglas Forest Protection Association, says it’s grown beyond their capacity:

Reed: “Our district covers 1.6 million acres. So with this fire growing in complexity and size we went ahead and brought in a team from the Oregon Department of Forestry. And basically they’re coming in to relieve our guys working on that fire.”

Wildfires Continue To Burn In Oregon

Jul 7, 2015
http://inciweb.nwcg.gov

The hot and dry weather in Oregon continues to fuel wildfires. A new fire was reported over the 4th of July weekend.

The Niagara Fire is burning on 70 acres near Detroit. Roads are open and the cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

There are four other large fires burning in the state. Anything over 300 acres is considered large. Emily Veale is with the Umpqua National Forest. She says Bunker Hill is 388 acres and is 90 percent contained.

Ken Gregor - Incident Commander

Updated Sunday 2:00 pm:

Lemolo Lake Resort and the Forest Service Campgrounds at Poole Creek and East Lemolo remain open.  Bunker Hill, Inlet, and Crystal Springs  Campgrounds are closed to protect public safety.

The Bunker Hill Complex is located 15 miles north of Diamond Lake.  The fire complex consists of one larger fire called the Bunker Hill Fire and several small fires all burning within the Umpqua National Forest.

OR Department of Forestry

Wildfire season started early in Oregon and most of the state is experiencing drought conditions. That’s prompted the Department of Forestry to issue tighter restrictions on outdoor activities.

Open fires and cigarette smoking are just a few of the restrictions prohibited in wooded areas. The tightened measures have been implemented to curb the risk of human caused fires. 

ODF’s Greg Wagenblast says the upcoming heat wave and low humidity will make the wildfire risk even greater.

Douglas Forest Protective Association

The federal government is warning this could be a dangerous and costly wildfire season in the west, due in part to drought and climate change.

The Douglas Forest Protective Association oversees 1.6-million acres of land in Douglas County. Fire Prevention Specialist Kyle Reed says their 10-year average is about 90 fires a year. He says they're already one-third of the way there.

FEMA.gov

Oregon is among 12 states to receive Enhanced Mitigation status from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

States with Enhanced Mitigation Plans have demonstrated to the federal government they have been proactive and comprehensive in their disaster preparedness programs. Achieving this status means more funding will be available to those states if a disaster happens. Oregon Office of Emergency Management Spokesman Cory Grogan says the success of Oregon's Mitigation Plans start with its leaders.

Karen Richards

Senator Ron Wyden met with leaders of several Oregon fire prevention agencies today (Thursday) in Springfield. He's proposed legislation he hopes will make their jobs easier, as they face another potentially dangerous fire season.

With precipitation in the Willamette Basin currently at ten percent of normal, firefighters say they're doing work now they usually do in June. Senator Wyden is aware of the urgency. He and Idaho Republican Senator Mike Crapo have introduced a bill to classify mega-fires as natural disasters.

Hottest Summer on Record for Eugene

Sep 17, 2014
Schin Haakenson / Inciweb

Eugene experienced its hottest summer on record this year. The area saw 34 days of 90 degree temperatures or higher. The old record was set in 1958. On average, only about 12 days of 90 degree temperatures are expected, according to Clinton Rocky with the National Weather Service in Portland.

“We just lost our good classic onshore flow that brought us those morning clouds. This year not the case. So instead, we got the warm days plus we got all those obnoxious warm nights where the temperature sometimes had a hard time getting back down under 60 degrees.”

Central Oregon Fire Info

Fire season is calming down in the Northwest. Officials have dropped their preparedness level to 4. The region was at level 5 for 31 days-- an all time record.

More than 8 thousand firefighters were battling 21 large fires in Oregon and Washington at the height of this fire season. Linda Hecker is with the Northwest Fire Coordination Center in Portland. She says things are calming down, which has allowed officials to reduce the region's preparedness level.

Fire Crews Anticipate More Lightning

Aug 12, 2014
USDA

Thunderstorms are expected to continue today and tomorrow in the Willamette Valley and Central Oregon. The chance of lightning will keep the red flag warning in effect and fire troops on the lookout for new starts.

More than 40 new fires started in the Willamette National Forest during the recent thunderstorms. Jean Nelson-Dean, with the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center explains how fire crews anticipate these new blazes.

Inciweb

Smoke from southern Oregon wildfires is making its way to the Willamette Valley and the central Cascades. That's what's creating hazy conditions. But state regulators say air quality is good for the Eugene-Springfield area. It's rated moderate in the Bend area.

Clinton Rocky is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland. He says the hazy skies should stick around through Tuesday.

Jessica Robinson

Residents of fire-ravaged central Washington say they're in a “state of shock.” Fires destroyed more houses over the weekend and prompted additional evacuation notices. Now, some people are sifting through the rubble of their former homes. Jessica Robinson has more from Okanogan County.

Kelsey Verbeck and her husband grabbed a few items before evacuating their home in Pateros, Wash. A diaper bag for their newborn. Work clothes for the next day.

Wildfires Pose Threat To Sage-Grouse

Jun 16, 2014
Oregon News Service

Wildllife managers want to focus on protecting sage grouse habitat for the birds’ 11-state range including Oregon. Habitat destruction is the biggest threat to the bird and intense wildfires in the West are not making it easier.

The U.S. Interior Department told governors at a meeting last week in Colorado, the sage-grouse could end up on the endangered species list if more isn’t done to protect forests.  Bend Fire Captain Karl Findling is a former worker for the Bureau of Land Management. He says firefighters are noticing changes to wildfires themselves, and in weather patterns.

Several wildfires sparked overnight in the Oregon coast range and Cascade foothills. The National Weather service has issued a rare January Red Flag Warning for the region.

Trina Hartley is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland.  She says strong easterly winds encouraged the small blazes. A few are in the Cascades in southern Oregon But there were also several fires in the coast range.

Hartley: "On the coast in particular it's hard to get a fire started in July so to have these fire starts in January is extremely rare."

Oregon Inmates Helped Fight Wildfires In 2013

Oct 6, 2013
Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Forestry

Hot-shot crews and volunteers weren’t the only ones fighting fires in Oregon this year. More than 800 inmates from the state’s correctional institutions worked side-by-side combating blazes.

The State Department of Corrections and the Oregon Department of Forestry have teamed up since 1951 to fight wildfires. Inmates go through the same nationally certified training course as civilians do. DOC Communications Manager Elizabeth Craig says the program benefits both the forests and the inmates.

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