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. Continue Reading…
Posted by Paul Collins on Thu, 16 Apr 2015
See the BBC documentary on Cascadia Earthquake, Oregon’s coming disaster, at the January Ashland CERT General Meeting
- Tuesday, January 14, 2015 6:30PM
- Ashland Fire Station One, 455 Siskiyou Boulevard
- Free, public invited
- Discussion following the film
Posted by Paul Collins on Thu, 18 Dec 2014
Press release: Oregon Department of Forestry Team 2- Chris Cline, Incident Commander
August 1, 2014 12:00 p.m.
Special Message: The public is asked to use caution while driving near the vicinity of the Salt Creek Fire. Vehicles cutting corners while traveling the roads in the area of East Evans Road, West Evans Road, and Antioch Road have been reported.
Current Situation: The Beaver Complex now consists to two fires: Salt Creek Fire and Oregon Gulch Fire. The newest fire, Oregon Gulch, is south of Highway 66, burning in the proximity of the Soda Mountain Wilderness. The fire grew rapidly and is approximately 11,000 acres. Salt Creek Fire had moderate fire growth yesterday and is currently 108 acres. Both fires were caused by lightning from thunderstorms that moved through the area over the last few days. Due to the complexity of the Oregon Gulch Fire, a unified command management structure with Oregon Department of Forestry, CalFire, and Oregon State Fire Marshall’s office will be established.
Jackson County Sheriff’s Office issued a Level 3 evacuation order yesterday for homes near Oregon Gulch fire, near Copco Road (6000 block to Oregon border). All of the people in the affected area have been contacted.
Salt Creek Fire
The east side of the fire has been lined using a bulldozer. Also, hose used to transport water to the fireline will be installed and mop up will begin. The west side of the fire is more problematic for fire personnel due to the steep terrain, making it difficult for personnel to work along the fireline directly. Roads near the west side of the fire will be cleared to help create better access.
Oregon Gulch Fire
This fire was integrated into Beaver Complex yesterday afternoon. The fire is burning in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. The fire grew rapidly, crossing into Klamath County in Oregon and crossing over the Oregon-California border early last evening. Resource advisors from Bureau of Land Management have been dispatched to the fire to assist with minimizing the effects of fire suppression activity within the Monument. Fire growth is expected to move in a southeast direction. The number of structures threatened is 170. Multiple outbuildings were destroyed. Fire personnel from California, Bureau of Land Management, and various structural fire departments are assisting with fire suppression and structural protection.
Weather: Sunny skies are expected with a chance of isolated thunderstorms by evening. The temperature is expected to reach 98 degrees with light winds from the north and west, becoming northeast and northwest.
Fire Statistics for Salt Creek
Location: 20 miles northwest of Medford, OR Percent Contained: 30% Complex Size: 108 acres Cause: Lightning
Start Date: 7/30/14
Fire Statistics for Oregon Gulch
Location: 15 miles east of Ashland, OR Percent Contained: 5% Complex Size: 11,000 acres Cause: Lightning
Start Date: 7/30/14
Resources Include: 6 T2 hand crews, 4 Camp Crews, 12 engines, 10 dozers, 8 water tenders, and overhead personnel.
Air Resources: 11 helicopters and air tankers on request.
Places to get information:
Twitter – www.twitter.com/swofire/
Southwest Oregon District Blog – http://www.swofire.com/
DEQ – http://www.deq.state.or.us/AQ/burning/wildfires/index.htm
Jackson County Sheriff’s Office – https://www.facebook.com/#!/JacksonCountySheriff
Posted by Paul Collins on Fri, 1 Aug 2014
The City of Ashland today issued information about lightning-caused fires, and this request:
We urge residents to only call in smoke or fires in their immediate area and especially any close to structures, so as not to overwhelm 911 dispatchers with distant fires that are already being staffed. — Ashland Fire & Rescue
In particular, a fire on Wagner Peak is widely visible. Continued near-100 highs mean likely more small fires, and aircraft are being used to watch for new ones.
Posted by Paul Collins on Thu, 31 Jul 2014