page is a log of our online postings of the 2004 fire season as
2004 Pre-Season: Will we or won't we have air tanker support
to recent national news, [federal] "officials cancelled $30
million in contracts for use of the large air tankers last month,
citing safety concerns after two planes broke up in midair in
2002, killing five people." To be put back into use, their
private operators have to establish that they are safe.
"[E]ven if the tankers are not restored, the Forest Service
and Bureau of Land Management have adequate resources to fight
fires this summer... The two agencies said Tuesday [June 1st]
they plan to add nearly 130 more aircraft to their 700-plane fleet
as soon as possible. Private companies will supply up to 48 smaller
air tankers, and 71 large and medium-sized helicopters to take
up the slack... the extra firefighting help will cost about $66
(for further info,
see: "Feds vow to try to get tankers flying" - AP article,
pub. by the MT, p.6A, Thurs., June 3rd, 2004, and "The latest
in firefighting tools? How about a 747?" - AP article, pub.
by the MT, p.2B, Sat., May 22nd, 2004.)
Check out the following
recent articles from the Mail Tribune's archives:
air tanker approved" - April 14th, 2004
- Online Edition" - April 15th, 2005
await tanker's fate" - May 11th, 2004
air tanker availability unresolved" -
May 12th, 2004
tanker gets nod for Medford" - May 14th,
to the Editor - Online Edition" - June
recent Associated Press article on May 24th
underscored the serious conditions we again face this summer:"
'Months ago, national fire managers predicted the 2004 wildfire
season would be a bad one in the West. Now, they're changing
their forecast: It's going to be worse... With unseasonably
warm temperatures in March and April, the potential loss of
heavy air tankers for safety reasons [see related articles
below] and a years-long drought continuing, Western states
and the federal government are facing the possibility of another
devastating fire season.
'Years of drought have left states across the West vulnerable
to extreme fire conditions. The greatest threat lies in the
Pacific Northwest, the northern Rockies of Idaho and Montana,
and the Southwest, including Southern California, where conditions
are the driest. In Washington, the state Department of Natural
Resources already has fought 70 small fires this year, up
from the usual 20, and forests are as dry as they typically
are in late July or early August. And snowpack in the Cascades
in Oregon has fallen to well below average...'
'A map provided by the National Interagency Fire Center shows
where there is above-normal potential for wildfires this season;
all of Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington, much of northern
Idaho, and western Montana is blanketed with this potential,
from the Cascade range eastward. The far-eastern strip of
northern California is also included. Paul Werth, of the Northwest
Interagency Coordination Center in Portland, is quoted as
saying, "It really is huge... There's really the potential
for a large number of huge fires - long-duration fires.'
'Some Oregon districts such as LaPine, which experienced a
21,000-acre fire last year which burned to the edge of town,
suspended all burning several weeks early this year, after
1,000-hour fuels, such as "6 to 8-inch logs and dead
growth," also ignited during spring brush burning. "Early
fires already are scorching Southern California, where fire
danger usually is highest in the fall... Wildfires early this
month [in May] blackened thousands of acres across Southern
California and destroyed 28 homes. The entire state of Arizona
and at least half of New Mexico are facing above-normal and
even critical fire danger," as well.'
'Fires in southern California and Nevada as of July 20th are
already severe, with thousands of acres affected, massive
emergency population evacuations, and numerous homes destroyed
by uncontrollable flames pushed by high winds.' "
further up-to-date fire outlook information, see our Weather
& Fire Weather Links, News & Info page."
2004 fire season outlook:
of the earlier warm, dry spring, followed by just enough rain
to promote spring grass growth, which is now dry, coupled
with wide-spread extended drought conditions across the west,
the 2004 fire season is expected to be busier and potentially
more severe than most.
you have questions, call us at (541) 488-1768, or call the
ODF at (541) 664-3328. You can also view the notices published
by the Mail Tribune:"
June 4th, the 2004 fire season began in Jackson and Josephine
counties in southern Oregon. All open burning was prohibitedfrom
this date forward through the remainder of the 2004 fire season.
restriction on open burning applies on all private,
county, state and BLM lands. Please observe this restriction
voluntarily. Any violations will be cited, and prosecuted
will update this when this final restriction is lifted,
as well as posting a notice at the end of fire season.
The ODF cautions that we should continue to be cautious
while taking advantage of the lessening of restrictions,
since we are still in fire season at High fire danger.
ask that you continue to use caution and common sense with
regard to the fire potential of any of your activities.
call in any suspicious smoke, as well as all known fires:
Rapid response is crucial.
that rain does not ALWAYS change the fire danger - it only
lessens it temporarily. Please observe the posted levels,
regardless of rain.
you have any questions about the open burning restriction
or other potential fire risk activities, please call
us at (541) 488-1768. We are here to assist you.
non-local general information, call the ODF at (541)
rural fire prevention!
Under SB 360, if someone ignores any rule regarding
fire danger restrictions and causes a wildfire, that
person could be billed for all firefighting costs under
State law also says parents can be held financially responsible
for fires started by their children.
Keep a shovel or other fire tools available during the fire season,
as a general precaution, in the event of sparks from vehicles,
barbeques, or other sources.
alert during and after lightning storms for smoke or fires.
strikes can cause fires in slow-burning, heavier fuels or subsurface
forest floor duff that sometimes remain unseen for several days
before they build into visible fires.
can be just as true when lightning hits with rain, as without
rain, depending on the type of fuel involved.
does not remove fire danger: it only lessens it temporarily.
high heat, previously dry light "flash" fuels, (i.e.,
grasses, surface duff and shrubbery) can become completely dry
and flammable again within a day or two."
public announcement, "Outdoor
fire restrictions begin Monday" was published in the
(Medford) Mail Tribune on Sun., July 18, 2004.
July 24th, 2004, Hilt Community Center Fire
On the evening of Saturday,
July 24th, the historic Hilt Community Center was struck by lightning
during the storm that hit our area. Despite rapid initial attack
and interagency assistance, the structure could not be saved,
and burned to the ground.
Tom Shorey and his
sons, who lived in a part of the building, were not home at the
time of the fire, but their belongings were a total loss. Nearby
neighbor Christina Lehman set up a voluntary assistance fund (called
The Tom Shorey Fund) to help them through their loss. Anyone wishing
to contribute may do so at any Bank of America branch.
The Siskiyou Daily
News in Yreka refered to the structure as, "One of the last
remaining historical structures in the town of Hilt." The
Ashland Daily Tidings stated that, "Years of memories now
lay in a charred mess of metal and wood as Hilt residents, past
and present, mourn the loss of the Hilt Community Center. // The
center burned to the ground about 7 p.m. Saturday..."
The Siskiyou Daily
News and the Ashland Daily Tidings carried several full reports
of this event, and some local Hilt residents have offered their
comments. Steve Meads, one of the proprietors of the Stateline
Service store in Hilt, also took photos.
A new page dedicated
to the Hilt
Community Center Fire event has local reports, links
to news reports, and some photos (just added). (Please allow a
few extra minutes if necessary for this page to load, because
of the 23 photos presented on it.)
local papers carried reports of the many regional lightning
fires of July 24th:
storm ignites weekend's worth of fires
(from the The Mail Tribune - Medford - Tuesday, July 27th, 2004)
crews knocked out seven fires Sunday that Saturday’s storm
ignited. The largest of those burned three-quarters of an acre
near Pilot Rock..."
moves in, and quickly out (from
the Mail Tribune - Medford - Sun. July 25th,
flee Iron Gate fire
(from the Siskiyou Daily
News - Yreka, CA - Mon. July 26, 2004)
IRON GATE DAM - Back-to-back
lightning storms struck northern Siskiyou County over the weekend,
causing a number of wildland fires in the area, including a major
fire near a residential area surrounding Iron Gate Reservoir.
"Most of them were taken care of that night... However,..."
say eight new fires were caused by a lightning storm that returned
to the area Sunday evening, all limited to 25 acres or less with
the largest occurring off of Highway A-12 in the area of Mount
Shasta Vista. Fire crews were still working that fire this morning
and expect total containment by the end of the day. // Lightning
strikes hit a number of other locations throughout the Shasta
Valley over the weekend including Hilt, Greenhorn
and Humbug Ridge near Yreka, Gregory Mountain near Montague and
the Iron Gate area. Firefighters responded to 15 fires Saturday
night and eight new fires on Sunday, all as a result of lightning."
area's widespread smoke during the last week of July
was caused by a fire to the north, in central Oregon:
haze coming from distant fire
(reported in the Ashland Daily Tidings, Fri. July 30th, 2004):
"The haze of smoke
which has hovered in the Rogue Valley since Thursday is coming
from the 10,500 acre Log Springs Fire in Central Oregon, said
Dennis Turco, fire prevention officer for the Oregon Department
from Central Oregon fire
(reported in the Mail Tribune, Fri. July 30th, 2004):
smoke pouring into the Rogue and Bear Creek valleys Thursday morning
[July 29th] was from the 10,500-acre Log Springs fire in Central
Oregon, said Dennis Turco, local fire safety officer for the Oregon
Department of Forestry. The drift smoke prompted numerous calls
to his office from local residents concerned a large wildfire
was burning nearby... The smoke is expected to diminish as the
fire is controlled and the prevailing winds dissipate it. For
daily wildfire smoke forecasts and updates, visit www.odf.state.or.us/DIVISIONS/protection/fire_protection/daily/wfsmoke.asp
another storm on Monday August 2nd:
rain pound valley
(from the Mail Tribune - Medford - Mon., Aug 2nd, 2004)
"Heavy rain, hail and thunderstorms struck the region on
Monday afternoon, causing flooding in Phoenix and Ashland... About
eight to 10 fires were caused by lightning in Jackson County,
including four to five in the Ashland area... About 175 of the
3,400 lightning downstrikes in Oregon were detected in Jackson
County, Turco said. The bolts came while ODF announced it would
enact extreme fire-precaution restrictions beginning Wednesday
in Jackson and Josephine counties..."
(from the Daily Tidings
- Ashland - Tues., August 3rd, 2004)
apparently left few fires
(from the Mail Tribune - Medford - Wed., Aug. 4th, 2004)
"Medford and Ashland firefighters will soon be able
to respond to fires, medical calls and other emergencies faster
than ever, thanks to a $237,000 federal grant."
(reported in the Mail Tribune - Medford - Wed.,
August 4th, 2004)
went to '"Extreme" Fire Danger on Wed., August 4th.
On that date, the Oregon Dept. of Forestry faxed us the following
notice of fire restrictions:
ODF: Dan Thorpe (541) 664-3328 & Rick Dryer (541) 474-3152
BLM: Tom Murphy (541) 618-2236
USFS: Mary Marrs (541) 858-2211
FIRE DANGER - RESTRICTIONS INCREASED
Point, OR: Even with cooler temperatures forecast, fire
danger in Southwest Oregon is now extreme. In an effort to prevent
human-caused wildfires under these conditions, wildland fire agencies
are tightening restrictions on activities conducted by the general
public, and industrial forest workers. These restrictions will
be effective on National Forest lands and on the Rogue River -
Siskiyou National Forest protected by the USDA Forest Service,
and on state, county, private, and Bureau of Land Management lands
in Jackson and Josephine Counties protected by the Oregon Department
of Forestry. All restrictions listed will be effective Wednesday,
August 4, 2004.
RESTRICTIONS ON OREGON
DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY PROTECTED LANDS:
FOR THE GENERAL
PUBLIC - The following activities will be completely prohibited:
of any kind
mowing of dry grass
except in improved campgrounds such as state and county
areas of flammable vegetation
in areas of flammable vegetation, except on improved
roads free of flammable vegetation
grinding, and welding of metal
Use of power
driven machinery such as backhoes, string trimmers,
Fire restrictions were lessened on August 24th, 2004,
restrictions: the Industrial Fire Precaution
Level is now at Level 2.
chain saw use is prohibited between 1:00 and 8:00 p.m.
mowing of dry grass is prohibited between 1:00 and 8:00
non-commercial use of power-driven machinery such as backhoes
and trenchers, in areas of flammable vegetation is prohibited
between 1:00 and 8:00 p.m.
welding or grinding of metal in areas of flammable vegetation
of motorized vehicles off of improved roads is prohibited.
outdoor burning is prohibited.
is prohibited in wildland areas, except in enclosed vehicles
while on improved roads, free of flammable vegetation.
are allowed only in designated areas such as county and
are prohibited in areas of flammable vegetation such as
dry grass, brush, and other forested areas, and on all
changes are in response to the cooler weather and rains
of recent weeks. The ODF cautions that the fire danger
may rise back to Extreme again if hotter, dryer weather
returns, and that these changes may only be temporary.
are reminded to continue to be cautious while taking
advantage of the lessening of restrictions, since we
are still in fire season at High fire danger, larger
forest fuels remain dry inside, and overall fuel load
amounts have not diminished.
apply on all private, county, state and BLM lands. Please
observe these restrictions voluntarily. Any violations
will be cited, and prosecuted if necessary.
additional commentary by ODF see "Wet
weather dampens fire danger
But prevention officer says return of hot days will
quickly dry the wildlands," published Tues.,
Aug. 24, 2004, in the Mail Tribune
(Medford), by Paul Fattig.
These changes, as above, are in response to the cooler
weather, which has been unseasonally and unpredictably
cooler over the past week.
days before the level was changed, we sent postcards
to our district members notifying them of activity restrictions
under Extreme fire danger conditions, which were expected
to continue for the remainder of the fire season.
apologize for the contradictory restriction notice,
and suggest that if you received one, you retain it
for reference in the event that we return to Extreme
fact that fire danger was still with us was underscored just before
this by another fire in Hilt on Monday afternoon, September
6th. The Mail Tribune's report on September 7th read:
wildfire doused in Hilt
Calif. - "Investigators believe a carelessly tossed
cigarette started a fire that burned about 10 acres Monday
fire started just off Hilt Road around 4:15 p.m., said Monty
Messenger, a fire captain and investigator with the California
Department of Forestry.
from the California and Oregon departments of forestry,
U.S. Forest Service and fire departments in Hilt, Colestin,
Hornbrook and Montague battled the blaze. Hand crews, a
helicopter and a dozer worked to contain the fire, Messenger
said. Two homes in Hilt were threatened by the flames, but
firefighters corralled the blaze before it damaged any buildings,
he said. The fire was under control by 6 p.m.
fire remains under investigation. Messenger reminds people
to be careful outdoors as fire season hasn't ended yet."
front-page article in the Medford Mail Tribune on Monday, Sept.
20th, 2004, stated that "Slow
Oregon fire season is over."
we confirmed with Dennis Turco of the ODF that this was a misprint,
and that the article (not by local reporters but written by the
AP) applied to areas in the northern part of the state and elsewhere,
but not to our own.
Mail Tribune on Tuesday, September 21st, 2004, ran another front-page
article correcting the previous article: "Local
wildfire season persists: Warmer days ahead keep the official
fire danger at 'High' in Southern Oregon."
ODF's news release stated that, "Fire season may have ended
in some parts of Oregon, but it's still in effect in Jackson and
Josephine Counties. Some local areas received little rainfall,
the heavy vegetation is still dry, and warm, dry, & windy
conditions are expected by the weekend. Although fire danger is
"High," ODF officials are easing some restrictions on
state, county, private and BLM lands..."
the ODF's news release of Mon. 20 Sept. in
pdf file format - requires free Adobe
Acrobat Reader software).
of Sunday, October 10th, 2004:
ARE STILL IN FIRE SEASON.
because of recent rain, the posted
Fire Danger Level has just been lowered to "MODERATE."
of late Saturday, October 9th (yesterday), we received
word from ODF that the fire level has been lowered to
Moderate and that all of the fire
danger restrictions, with the exception of a continued
ban on open burning, are now lifted.
are in close contact with ODF and will continue to keep
our website visitors updated regarding open burning as
the fire season winds down.
following changes in fire danger restrictions are now
the Industrial Fire Precaution Level remains at Level
the IFPL 1, commercial operators on forested lands are
required to have fire equipment on site, and provide
a watchman service.
burning remains completely prohibited.
activities previously prohibited (listed below) are
now fully permitted:
chain saw use
mowing of dry grass
non-commercial use of power-driven machinery such as backhoes,
trenchers, rototillers, etc.
welding or grinding of metal
of motorized vehicles off of improved roads
in wildland areas, except in enclosed vehicles while on
improved roads, free of flammable vegetation.
except in designated areas such as county and state parks.
in areas of flammable vegetation such as dry grass, brush,
and other forested areas, and on all federal lands.
2004 Fire Season Ends
10:00 A.M. on Monday, October 18th, the Oregon Dept. of Forestry
declared the end of fire season, due to the recent rains and cooler
Mt. Ashland received a dusting of snow, with about a half-inch
of rain regionally at lower elevations, by the 18th. (See "Storm
ends fire season," Mail Tribune, Tues. Oct. 19th.)
previous fire danger restrictions were lifted for the duration
of the wet season.
the Hilt-Colestin-Mt.Ashland area experienced several fire incidents
this past season, including the Hilt
Community Center Fire, the 2004 fire season was regionally
lighter, with a lesser number of lightning fires and less consequent
damage. It was also shorter, at 137 days; the average is 143 days.
ODF attributes the lower impact of the fire season to the combination
of factors, saying that "the reduced number of fires, fast
action by firefighters, great assistance from our cooperators
and the timber industry and legislative funding to base an air
tanker at Medford played key roles in averting disaster."
thanks to everyone in our community for co-operating with and
participating in fire safety and rural prevention during this
past fire season.
a special thanks to all of our volunteer firefighters and first
responders for doing their best to keep our district safe from