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November 30, 2022
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After Nearly 150 Days, Fire Season Ends on the ODF Southwest Oregon District

After Nearly 150 Days, Fire Season Ends on the ODF Southwest Oregon District

JACKSON & JOSEPHINE, Ore. (Oct. 25, 2022) – After a long, dry, and un-seasonably warm season, the 2022 fire season on the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) Southwest Oregon District is officially ending on Wednesday, October 26, 2022 at 12:01 a.m. The ending of the 2022 season eliminates all public regulated use restrictions and industrial fire precaution level requirements. This announcement affects 1.8 million acres across Jackson and Josephine counties. This fire season on the Southwest Oregon District spanned 147 days.

“We’ve seen longer seasons that have hung on into late October and November before, but it’s been unseasonably dry this month,” said Tyler McCarty, Southwest Oregon District Forester. “Southern Oregon is very fire prone, but the heightened risk has passed at this point with the amount rain we’ve received this week.”

Between the start of the fire season on June 1 to October 25, there have been 240 fires across the district for a little over 21,703 acres burned. Lightning proved to be the main catalyst for fire starts in the season, causing 72 fires across Jackson and Josephine counties, including the Westside Complex in Jackson County and the Lightning Gulch complex in Josephine County. These complexes were made up of more than 50 fire starts caused by lightning strikes, spawning the Rum Creek and Hog Creek Fires near Merlin. The Rum Creek Fire would become the season’s largest fire, burning a total of 21,347 acres, destroying two homes, six structures, and taking the life of contract firefighter Logan Taylor.

“Logan paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect southern Oregon, and we’re so humbled and appreciative of how the community joined us in honoring him and his service,” McCarty said. “We’ve been fortunate on the Southwest Oregon District to not lose many firefighters, and Logan’s passing has touched everyone in our firefighting community. Our thoughts and prayers are still with his family and friends every day.”

The Rum Creek Fire was ignited by lightning on August 17 and was operationally taken over by Northwest Incident Management Team 13 on August 21. Near the end of August, gusting winds pushed the fire from under 1,000 acres to more than 8,400, and ODF Incident Management Team 1 and an Oregon State Fire Marshal IMT were ordered to work in unified command with Northwest IMT 13. All of Galice was evacuated, as well as surrounding rural residences, and portions of the Rogue River and recreational areas were closed as firefighters worked to create a containment line around the fire. On September 6, Northern Rockies Team 6 replaced Northwest IMT 13. By September 16, all evacuations had been lifted by the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Management. All teams demobilized by late September when the fire was declared 90% contained on Sept. 23.

The largest fires of the season on the district are listed below:

Fire Name

Acres

                  Cause

Rum Creek Fire

21,347

Lightning

Ladybug Fire

78

Lightning

Keeler Fire

73

Lightning

Cheney Creek Fire

30

Lightning

Tallowbox Fire

26

Lightning

Hog Creek Fire

26

Lightning

Anderson Butte Fire

25

Human-caused

Wards Creek Fire

16

Lightning

 

Despite challenges from dry fuels, hot temperatures, and windy conditions throughout the season, ODF firefighters kept 96.6% of fires at 10 acres or less within Jackson and Josephine counties, just shy of ODF’s protection goal of 98%.

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. 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 you reside:

Jackson County Burn Line: (541) 776-7007

Josephine County Burn Line: (541) 476-9663

Even though the fire season is officially over, please continue to practice fire prevention when burning debris by ensuring a burn pile is never left un-attended and using caution when using machinery that could cause a spark. Please be aware that fires can still spread in fall and winter conditions. This region is extremely prone to wildfire, and for that reason, fire knows no season.

Fire prevention tips and information from the ODF Southwest Oregon District is available online at Facebook page, @ODFSouthwest and website, www.swofire.com.

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