ODF: Fire Season shortest in two decades

2019 Fire season ends as shortest in two decades for lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry

ODF staff monitor conditions in a central location during the 2019 fire season. (Image:  ODF Southwest Oregon District Facebook)

ODF staff monitor conditions in a central location during the 2019 fire season. (Image: ODF Southwest Oregon District Facebook)

SALEM, Ore. – The 2019 fire season officially ended on October 1 on all lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF). The last district to end its fire season -- the Southwest Oregon District covering Josephine and Jackson counties -- did so this morning at 9 a.m.

The 923 wildfires on ODF-protected lands this year is about average. However, thanks to favorable conditions and successful initial attack, the 16,867 total acres burned are 56 percent below average. Based on the average number of days in fire season across all ODF Districts, this year was the shortest fire season in the 21st century at only 99 days. This is about three weeks shorter than the 121-day fire season average for ODF across all Districts.

“Thanks to a minimum number of wildfires on the landscape statewide, we were fortunate to have adequate resources to respond to fires on our jurisdiction,” said ODF Fire Protection Deputy Chief Ron Graham. “With two team deployments – to the Milepost 97 Fire and Ward Fire - we share in the success of the 2019 fire season with Oregon’s complete and coordinated fire protection system, including forest and range landowners, local fire districts, Tribes, contractors, federal, state and county partners.”

The end of the fire season removes restrictions on ODF-protected lands intended to prevent wildfires, such as on backyard debris burning and the use of certain equipment. Many structural fire departments in Oregon, however, still require a permit for debris burning, so check with your local fire department before starting a burn.

As Oregon transitions out of fire season, ODF districts across the state are shifting their attention to wildfire prevention efforts. Clearing vegetation, creating defensible space around homes, and keeping those debris piles under control are just a few ways ODF is working with local landowners, members of the public and fellow fire response agencies to mitigate wildfire risk. 

“While we are seeing cool, rainy fall weather, it is important to note conditions can change quickly,” Graham said. “Given most of the lightning this time of year is accompanied by rain, human-caused fire starts tend to increase in number. People are anxious to burn backyard debris piles and can get complacent with fire safety. We are grateful for the help of every Oregonian working together to prevent wildfires year-round.”

The start and end of the fire season are set by each fire protection district based on the fuel conditions in their area. The arrival of steady, soaking rain coupled with cooler temperatures and shorter day lengths usually triggers the closure of the fire season. The 2019 fire season varied across Districts in length from 122 days in ODF's Southwest Oregon District to just 78 days in the Northwest Oregon District.

For more tips on how to keep yourself, your loved ones and your property safe from a wildfire at any time of year, visit ODF's Fire Prevention webpage at www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/pages/FirePrevention.aspx or go to the Keep Oregon Green website at www.KeepOregonGreen.org.

Press release provided from the Oregon Department of Forestry.

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