Ashland, Oregon Information in Emergency Events

Smoke from California fires is here

NOAA Smoke map for July 30, 2015
A general haze and smokiness is visible around Ashland. NOAA reports:

The wildfires in the Sierra Nevada and in northwest California are producing expansive smoke plumes that are moving to the west northwest off the Sierras and then to the north. There are fairly large areas of moderately dense smoke with most of these fires. The smoke extends north across much of west and south central Oregon. Another area of smoke likely attributable to the California wildfires is seen moving northeast across north Idaho into southwest Canada.


Posted by Paul Collins on Thu, 30 Jul 2015

Burning Done, Smoke Will Linger and Trails Still Closed May 1st

Ignitions just finished at 3:00 PM [Thursday] on the burning. Smoke will lighten up and dissipate. The work went well, though had to carve off a portion of the 75 acres we set out to burn because it was too moist. Approximately 50 acres on AFR was completed and another 20 on City forestlands higher in the watershed near Reeder Reservoir.

Light smoke may sink into town overnight. Those sensitive to smoke should close windows and use air conditioners as needed. Smoke today was much lighter than we can see during summer wildfire season, and a benefit to the watershed instead of what could be much, much worse. Look for coverage on local news channels and The Daily Tidings.

Trails and the 2060 road above Morton St will stay closed [Friday May 1] due to burn traffic and crews on the trails mopping up. You can also check the status of trails and our work on AFR’s Facebook page .

—Chris Chambers
Ashland Fire & Rescue

Posted by Paul Collins on Thu, 30 Apr 2015

Controlled Underburn Thursday, April 30th at White Rabbit Trailhead

Expect to see a column of smoke above Ashland on Friday as the first controlled underburn of the Ashland Forest Resiliency Stewardship Project (AFR) is undertaken. Heavy smoke will be visible from Ashland and surrounding areas and residents may smell smoke, especially in the evening.

The following areas will be closed on Thursday: White Rabbit Trailhead, White Rabbit Trail at USFS boundary, upper Mike Uhtoff Trail, Alice in Wonderland trail above Bandersnatch, Ashland Loop Road above the junction with Morton Street, Jabberwocky Trail and Caterpillar Trail.

Underburning differs from the commonly seen pile burning where single brush piles are lit one by one. During an underburn, fire crews carefully apply fire to a designated area bordering a road or other fireline to hold the low flames. Underburns mimic the long-absent natural role of fire in our local ecosystem, consuming needles, leaves, and branches on the forest floor that would otherwise accumulate over time and potentially fuel a severe fire that could threaten the community and our municipal water supply.

—Chris Chambers
Ashland Fire & Rescue

Posted by Paul Collins on Thu, 30 Apr 2015

Controlled burn April 29

The City of Ashland will be conducting a controlled burn on City forestlands east of the swimming reservoir, April 29th. ​Access to the Bandersnatch Trail area via Glenview Drive will be closed during the day on Wednesday for safety. The small burn encompasses 5 acres and borders private land to the north. The burn will be executed by Grayback Forestry Inc, and will consume surface fuel and create a buffer for adjoining property in the event of a summer wildfire as part of a larger strategy to protect homes and the city’s municipal watershed. Smoke will be visible from parts of town and more noticeably from further away. The combination of humidity, wind and temperature is forecast to meet targeted conditions for a successful burn. Residents in the area may see some smoke and smell smoke, especially in the evening hours as air moves down the mountains. Notifications are posted on the City’s website, on the Smoke and Wildfire Hotline at (541) 552-2490, on the 1700AM emergency station and the City’s Facebook and Twitter sites. More burning is expected this week if weather permits. Information will be updated as needed.
—Chris Chambers
Ashland Fire & Rescue

Posted by Paul Collins on Tue, 28 Apr 2015

Ashland Fire & Rescue Alarm Box: There are good fires and there are bad fires

By Chris Chambers, Forest Division Chief, Ashland Fire and Rescue

We’ve experienced wildfire smoke, heavy at times, in Ashland in the past. You may have also seen smoke rising from the hills above town recently. So what’s the difference? The distinction lies in what fire is doing when smoke is in the air: good fire and bad fire.

Fire in our forest is nothing new and, in fact, it’s been commonplace as far back as the oldest tree in the watershed and that’s 600 years. According to research, fires burned for centuries in the Ashland watershed every other year, and mostly low flames that maintained the forest. Not that there weren’t big flames on occasion, but not on the scale we see today. That was good fire, and it largely went away as European settlement took place.

Today, 150 years of growth, coupled with accumulating limbs and logs and needles and leaves with no good fire, has left us with a forest three times as dense. This is a recipe for bad fire. Bad fire scorches soils, consumes centuries-old trees and threatens us and our quality of life.

Since 1995, the city of Ashland has been working in earnest to get back to good fire on municipal forestland. Following suit, the U.S. Forest Service put forth the Ashland Forest Resiliency project in 2004 and, through a local partnership, nearly 4,000 acres of work toward putting good fire back to work is now complete. You’ve likely seen steps toward good fire on those controlled burn days when smoke billows above town as piles of forest debris are burned — debris created by thinning of 150 years of accumulated work that good fire hasn’t been able to do.

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Posted by Paul Collins on Thu, 16 Apr 2015