CENTRAL POINT, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District ended fire season on 1.8 million acres it protects in Jackson and Josephine counties at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 20. Rain, cooler temperatures and shorter day lengths combined to lower fire danger, allowing officials to end the restrictions associated with fire season.
The SW Oregon declaration affects state, private, county, city, and Bureau of Land Management forestlands and eliminates all public regulated use restrictions and industrial fire precaution level requirements on those lands in Jackson
The last three ODF districts in fire season – the Klamath-Lake District, Northeast Oregon District and Walker Range Forest Patrol Association – have announced their fire seasons will end on Friday, Oct. 22.
“This summer had the potential to be another devastating fire season in southern Oregon,” Acting District Forester Tyler McCarty said. “Despite that, ODF Southwest is thankful for the season we had – busy, but successful.”
During the 2021 fire season from May 12 to October 20, ODF Southwest Oregon District firefighters responded to 278 fires for a total of 273 acres burned; no homes damaged or destroyed. ODF as an agency has a goal of stopping 98% of its fires at 10 acres or less; this year, the Southwest Oregon District nearly met this goal at 97.8%. Year to date, the district has responded to 337 fires for 389 acres burned. We credit this not only to our aggressive initial attack strategies and well-trained firefighters, but our partners throughout the region, from federal agencies to local fire departments, that have helped to make this season a success.
“The relationships we have with our partner agencies are invaluable,” McCarty said. “The level of cooperation between Rogue Valley agencies was unparalleled this fire season, and made all the difference.”
The 2021 fire season was not without its challenges; the Southwest Oregon District began responding to fires consistently from the first week of March forward. Before fire season was officially declared on May 12, ODF firefighters had already suppressed 59 fires at 115 acres burned, 30 of which were caused by escaped debris burns. Between above average temperatures and warm, windy conditions, fires in the spring spread much more easily, greatly contributing to the high number of pre-season incidents. Going into the season in mid-May, the majority of the district was experiencing an extreme drought, which also played a large part in the dry fuel conditions. Between the weather and dry vegetation, it was clear this fire season had the potential to be devastating.
Despite these factors, the season has concluded without a fire progressing beyond a Type 3 incident; the largest fire on the district, the North River Road Fire, was caught at 60 acres in late June. The following are the district’s 10 largest fires of the season:
|Fire Name||Acres||Start Date||During Fire Season?|
|North River Road Fire||60 acres||June 19||Yes|
|E. Antelope Fire||49 acres||May 29||Yes|
|Board Mountain Fire||36 acres||August 31||Yes|
|Tarter Gulch Fire||33 acres||April 14||No|
|Bearwallow Ridge Fire||32 acres||April 22||No|
|Fielder Creek Fire||26 acres||September 7||Yes|
|Round Top Fire||23 acres||August 2||Yes|
|Buck Rock Fire||17 acres||August 1||Yes|
|Wards Creek Fire||8 acres||April 6||No|
|Thompson Creek Fire||8 acres||April 5||No|
The remaining 268 fires were caught at six acres or less. On top of this feat, crews responded to more than 1,248 calls for service that did not result in fire suppression.
The termination of fire season removes fire prevention regulations on equipment use and the use of fire for debris burning. This applies to the public and industrial operations on forestlands. However, industrial slash burning is still prohibited, and many structural fire agencies require permits for residential debris burning; please check with your local fire department to obtain any necessary permits before burning, and ensure it’s a burn day, designated by the county in which you reside:
- Jackson County Burn Line: (541) 776-7007
- Josephine County Burn Line: (541) 474-9663
While fire season is officially over, fire prevention must continue. Please be vigilant while burning debris, ensuring that a burn pile is never left unattended. Also, please use caution while using machinery that could produce a spark. Fall weather in Southern Oregon can vary greatly. This region is extremely prone to fire, and for that reason, fire knows no season; please be aware that fires can still spread in fall and winter conditions.
Despite the end of the season, the ODF Southwest Oregon District is still here to help. Fire prevention tips and additional information is available online at www.swofire.com, as well as our Facebook page, @ODFSouthwest and our Twitter account, @swofire.
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