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Local & regional news releases, articles & Info

A chronological listing, with excerpts & links, for 2005

 

On Wednesday, October 26th, 2005, the ODF declared the end of fire season. Brian Ballou, ODF's Wildland/Urban Interface Specialist for the Southwest Oregon District, issued the following public news release announcement. The text is republished here in full:

October 26, 2005

OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY - SOUTHWEST OREGON DISTRICT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - SOUTHWEST OREGON NEWS MEDIA
5286 Table Rock RD - Central Point, OR 97502
Contact: Greg Alexander, (541) 664-3328 - Rick Dryer, (541) 474-3152

FIRE SEASON ENDS ON ODF-PROTECTED FORESTLANDS

Fire season ended today at 8:00 A.M., October 26, 2005, on forestlands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District, and applies to state, county, private and Bureau of Land Management forestlands in Jackson and Josephine counties.

The district declared fire season on June 27 and it lasted 122 days.

Open and barrel burning are allowed as of today, but residents are required to follow local burning regulations. Briefly, here are the open burning regulations for Jackson and Josephine counties:

  • Open burning is disallowed within the city limits of Medford and Jacksonville.

  • Many fire districts require a permit that must be obtained prior to starting an open burn. Call your local fire protection district for permit information.

  • Burning within Jackson County’s Air Quality Maintenance Area is controlled. Call 776-7007 to find out whether burning is allowed prior to lighting an open fire. In the City of Rogue River area, call 582-2876.

  • In Josephine County, call 476-9663 for open burning information.

Southwest Oregon District Fire Season Statistics

  2005 10-Year Average

Human-Caused Fires
   
Number of Fires 176 175
Acres Burned 3,247 464
Lightning-Caused Fires    
Number of Fires 12 59
Acres Burned 1,726 4,232
All Fires    
Number of Fires 187 233
Acres Burned 4,972 4,696


More than 96 percent of all fires on Southwest Oregon District-protected lands were controlled at 10 acres or less. Equipment use caused more fires than any other category (e.g. lightning, juveniles, smokers, etc.).

Sixty-seven of the district’s fires were caused by equipment; this category includes power lines, vehicles, farm machinery, logging equipment, brush cutters and mowers. Fires caused by equipment use burned nearly 3,133 acres.

The district’s largest fires were the Wasson Fire, which burned 1,510 acres, and the Deer Creek Fire, which burned 1,548 acres. The district also managed a portion of the 14,908-acre Blossom Complex.

The Southwest Oregon District also benefited from a state-contracted retardant bomber stationed at the Medford Airtanker Base from July 7 through September 20. This bomber, and others, dropped 99 loads of retardant on 16 district fires; retardant drops were credited with stopping the spread of 11 of these fires.

Nearly 275,000 gallons of retardant were used on fires within the district.
For more information, contact the Oregon Department of Forestry’s unit office in your area:

ODF Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd., Central Point. Phone: (541) 664-3328
ODF Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Drive, Grants Pass. Phone: (541) 474-3152

###

View / Print ODF's End of Fire Season 2005 News Release document as a PDF file.
(Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher, FREE if you need to download it.)

 

Thursday, August 24, 2005 9:30 a.m. - the ODF issued the following:

August 24, 2005  9:30 a.m. - FIRE UPDATE

The 17-acre Jack Spring Fire, located north of Highway 140 near Milepost 25, is completely ringed with fire line and is 40 percent mopped up today. Fire crews made good progress overnight and will continue mop-up operations today. The fire burned in private forestland protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry's Medford Unit.

The fire's size, originally estimated at 30-33 acres, was revised overnight. The fire was reported at 2:08 p.m. Tuesday, and started beside the highway. Its specific cause is under investigation.

Highway 140 traffic was reduced to a single lane Tuesday afternoon due to fire-fighting activity beside the road and helicopters and airtankers flying overhead. Traffic control was provided by the Oregon Department of Transportation. The highway is open today, but motorists are urged to exercise caution in the fire area.

The Lake Creek Rural Fire Protection District and engines from the U.S. Forest Service are assisting with the fire-fighting effort. Crews and equipment have been contracted for mopping up and patrolling the fire, enabling first responders to return to their normal patrol areas.

The Hamilton Fire, which burned 35 acres of grass and forestland just south of Ruch, is being patrolled by engine crews today. That fire broke out Monday at 3:39 p.m. and threatened several residences and other structures. One storage shed burned.

The Hamilton Fire was fought by firefighters from the Oregon Department of Forestry's Medford Unit, Jackson County Rural Fire Protection District #9 and the U.S. Forest Service. Contract crews and equipment were used to fight the Hamilton Fire and assist with mop-up.

The cause of that fire is also under investigation.

Brian Ballou
Wildland/Urban Interface Specialist
Southwest Oregon District
Oregon Dept. of Forestry
(541) 665-0662
bballou@odf.state.or.us


Friday, August 5th, 2005 - The ODF issued the latest Media Advisory regarding the Right Sardine Fire north of Gold Hill, Oregon.  Full statement follows:

August 5, 2005 - 8:25 a.m.

Oregon Department of Forestry - Southwest Oregon District
5286 Table Rock Rd. - Central Point

Contact: Brian Ballou, (541) 665-0662 or (541) 621-4156

RIGHT SARDINE FIRE CONTAINED

The 40-acre Right Sardine Fire, burning on private forestland 5 miles north of Gold Hill, is 100 percent contained. The Oregon Department of Forestry's Medford Unit declared the fire contained at 7:00 a.m. today.

Four 20-person crews, four engines and two water tenders are assigned to the fire today. Two engines will patrol the fire area tonight.

The fire was reported Wednesday night, and its cause is under investigation.

 

Thursday, August 4th, 2005 - The ODF issued several Media Advisories regarding the Right Sardine Fire north of Gold Hill, Oregon . Excerpts follow:


August 4, 2005 - 4:55 p.m.

Oregon Department of Forestry - Southwest Oregon District
5286 Table Rock Rd. - Central Point

Contact: Brian Ballou, (541) 665-0662 or (541) 621-4156

RIGHT SARDINE FIRE 80 PERCENT LINED

The Right Sardine Fire, burning in a heavily forested area 5 miles north of Gold Hill, has a fire line around 80 percent of the its perimeter. Nine 20-person crews, three helicopters, three bulldozers and six engines are being used to contain the fire. It is burning on private forestland protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry's Medford Unit.

No structures are threatened by the fire, which is located approximately two miles up the Right Fork Sardine Creek Rd.

The temperature in the fire area topped 100 degrees this afternoon, but winds were light and caused no significant problems for firefighters. Helicopters dropped buckets of water onto hot spots, and firefighters strung hose down the fire's steep flanks.

Tonight, fire crews will continue constructing fireline, stringing hose and mopping up hot spots.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is underway. The fire was reported at 9:11 p.m. yesterday.

A map showing the Right Sardine Fire's location is posted on the World Wide Web at:

http://www.firemaps.org/Files/FileManager/Sardine_Creek_Fire-August_4_2005.pdf

The map was developed by Jackson County GIS.

Brian Ballou
Wildland/Urban Interface Specialist
Southwest Oregon District
Oregon Dept. of Forestry

 

August 4, 2005 - 1:10 p.m.

Oregon Department of Forestry - Southwest Oregon District
5286 Table Rock Rd. - Central Point

Contact: Brian Ballou, (541) 621-4156

RIGHT SARDINE FIRE UPDATE

The Right Sardine Fire, burning on private forestland 5 miles north of Gold Hill, is approximately 30 acres in size and three heavy helicopters are dropping water on hot spots. Ten engines, two bulldozers and seven water tenders are supporting the suppression effort. Some of the suppression crews working on the Wasson Fire were diverted to the Right Sardine Fire.

Airtankers have dropped retardant to help secure firelines.

No structures are immediately threatened by the fire, and the right fork of Sardine Creek Rd. is open; however, fire-related traffic is heavy.

The fire is within the jurisdiction of the Oregon Department of Forestry's Medford Unit. The incident commander is Bob Marcu.

A map showing the Right Sardine Fire's location is posted on the World Wide Web at: http://www.firemaps.org/Files/FileManager/Sardine_Creek_Fire-August_4_2005.pdf

The map was developed by Jackson County GIS.

Brian Ballou
Wildland/Urban Interface Specialist
Southwest Oregon District
Oregon Dept. of Forestry

 

August 4, 2005 - 8:25 a.m.

Oregon Department of Forestry - Southwest Oregon District
5286 Table Rock Rd. - Central Point

Contact: Brian Ballou, (541) 665-0662 or (541) 621-4156

TWENTY-ACRE WILDFIRE BREAKS OUT NORTH OF GOLD HILL

Oregon Department of Forestry firefighters responded Wednesday night to a wildfire burning adjacent to the right fork of Sardine Creek Rd., located approximately 5 miles north of Gold Hill (Township 35S, Range 3W, the southeast corner of Section 21).

The fire is estimated at 20 acres in size, and is burning in steep, forested country. Five ODF engines, two bulldozers, and two crews are on scene. Three helicopters and an airtanker are on order, as well as two additional bulldozers.

The fire is uncontained. At this time, no structures are threatened and Sardine Creek Rd. is open.

The fire was reported at 9:11 p.m. Wednesday, and reportedly started beside Sardine Creek Rd. The specific cause of the fire is being investigated.

Brian Ballou
Wildland/Urban Interface Specialist
Southwest Oregon District
Oregon Dept. of Forestry

 

Tractor sparks grass fire:  residents hose down property as a precaution
Tuesday, August 2nd, 2005 - by Sarah Lemon for The Mail Tribune (Medford, OR.) Excerpt follows:

An afternoon grass fire slowed freeway traffic in north Medford Monday and had nearby homeowners scrambling to keep the flames from spreading to yards and fences.

A tractor mowing dry grass in a field off Midway Road likely sparked the blaze... Firefighters then had to work against strong winds to contain the flames, which scorched several acres along the southbound side of Interstate 5 near the north Medford interchange...

Approximately 30 firefighters with eight engines from Medford, Jackson County Fire District No. 3 and Oregon Department of Forestry had control of the blaze within half an hour...

 

Two major Oregon wildfires contained, but more start
Tuesday, August 2nd, 2005 - The Mail Tribune (Medford, OR.) Excerpt follows:

PORTLAND - Two of Oregon's larger wildfires were contained overnight but more than 4,000 lightning hits in 24 hours started about 40 other blazes...

Jeree Mills of the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center said the Wasson fire near Eagle Point was contained at 1,510 acres Sunday night and that the Double Mountain fire west of Vale in Malheur County was contained at 22,095 acres.

 

Crews watch small Ashland watershed fires (12:30 p.m.)
Monday, August 1st, 2005 - by Sarah Lemon for The Mail Tribune (Medford, OR.) Excerpt follows:

Fire crews were working this afternoon to extinguish several small lightning-sparked blazes in the Ashland watershed.

The largest fire was reported at about 6 p.m. Sunday in an area where U.S. Forest Service crews recently had cleared brush near Windburn Ridge, said Robert Shoemaker, Forest Service fire duty officer. Thirty firefighters with the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and a contract company halted the blaze at about a quarter acre, Shoemaker said...

Shortly after the 6 p.m. spark, a spotter in a small plane spied two other fires, one near Four Corners and another near the summit of Mount Ashland, Shoemaker said. Both were reined in at about a tenth of an acre, he said.

Crews staffed the fires into today while others patrolled the south county area for more “sleeper” fires caused by lightning strikes. Such fires can smolder for days before springing to life, Shoemaker said...

About 20 lightning strikes were recorded Sunday evening from the California border to the Ashland area roughly along the Interstate 5 corridor...

 

2 of Oregon's major wildfires now contained: Two of Oregon's larger wildfires were contained but more than 4,000 lightning hits started about 40 other blazes, four of which are significant
11:46 AM PDT on Monday, August 1, 2005 - By kgw.com and AP Staff - Excerpt follows:

...Jeree Mills of the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center said the Wasson fire near Eagle Point was contained at 1,510 acres Sunday night and that the Double Mountain fire west of Vale in Malheur County was contained at 22,095 acres.

Higher humidity on Sunday and rain helped firefighters gain ground on many of the fires. Mills said storms brought as much as a half inch of rain in some areas. However, the storms also brought with them plenty of lightning.

Of the 40 new fire starts, Mills said, only about four have the potential for growth.

Elsewhere, the lightning-caused Blossom complex of fires, in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, had burned more than 1,000 acres as of Sunday night, all of it within protected wilderness.

More than 550 people were fighting the blaze with the help of seven helicopters that were taking water from the Rogue River to douse the flames...

Near Klamath Falls, crews completed a fire line around the 10-mile perimeter of the 2,283-acre Simpson Fire... fire crews aided by a half-dozen helicopters held the flames in check and reinforced the lines.

The Dry Cabin Fire posed some of the toughest challenges, burning in dense timber in a remote forest area about 20 miles north of Burns Junction. Mills said the Dry Cabin fire was 30 percent contained at 1,600 acres in grass and brush. The Skull Springs fire 22 miles north of that was contained at about 600 acres.

The Mule Peak Fire, burning in rugged country 20 miles southeast of La Grande, had grown to over 800 acres Monday. The Burnt River complex fires also continued burning in Eastern Oregon.

 

Wasson fire crews head home
Monday, August 1st, 2005 - The Mail Tribune (Medford, OR.) Excerpt follows:

LAKE CREEK — Most of the nearly 640 firefighters who spent six days battling the Wasson Fire, Southern Oregon’s first summer wildfire, will head home today, officials said.

Mop-up of the fire that burned 1,510 acres was expected to continue, with crews staying behind to extinguish smoldering fires near the edges of the site and to put erosion control measures in place on fire trails...

 

ODF News Release - Sunday, July 31st, 2005
(In PDF format - requires Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher, FREE if you need to download it.)

At 9 a.m. Sunday, July 31st, ODF's Incident Management Team's Incident Information Officer, Mike Barsotti, issued a final news release on the 1,510-acre Wasson Fire stating that began July 26th near Highway 140 in the Lake Creek area 15 miles east of Eagle Point was 100 percent contained as of Saturday, July 30th, at 6 p.m. Full text follows:

Note: This news release from the Wasson Fire's incident management team was issued Sunday. The team is turning the fire back over to the Oregon Department of Forestry's Southwest Oregon District today. No further news releases will be issued about the Wasson Fire unless there are significant new developments.

Wasson Fire - Jackson County, Oregon 2005

For Immediate Release - Sunday, July 31, 2005 (9 A.M.)

The Wasson Fire, 15 miles east of Eagle Point, was 100 percent contained yesterday at 6 p.m. The majority of firefighters will be heading home tomorrow. A team of local crews and other fire fighting resources will continue to “mop-up” the remaining fire.

Today, firefighters continue “mop-up” and rehabilitation of the burn. Mop-up consists of extinguishing smoldering fires adjacent to the perimeter as well those in the with interior areas that could later create control problems. Rehabilitation, the final phase of work, focuses on erosion control measures on fire trails built during the fire control effort. Landowners are left to individually deal with the damage to their forests.

The fire has burned on private and public forest lands. Private forest ownership includes two private industrial and three family forestland owners. Public ownership includes USDA Forest Service and USDI Bureau of Land Management.

The Wasson Fire started Tuesday afternoon as a result of a vehicle accident. The fire threatened the Oregon Tiger Sanctuary and several homes but no structures were damaged with the fire being halted one-half mile short of the structures.

Highway 140, the major roadway between Medford and Klamath Falls was closed for a short time last evening, but is now open with reduced speed limits for the area adjacent to the fire. Motorists are urged to use caution while traveling Highway140 through the fire area.

The fire is being managed by an Oregon Department of Forestry Incident Management Team under the command of Jim Walker.

Note: Management of the Wasson Fire returns to the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District on Monday. Their phone number is 664-3328.

###

 

‘Mop-up’ phase starts on Wasson fire
Sunday, July 31st, 2005 - by Chris Conrad for The Mail Tribune (Medford, OR.) Excerpt follows:

It’s not over, but the worst has apparently passed on the Wasson fire, which flared up this week east of the Rogue Valley...

Fire lines put in place Friday held on the 1,490-acre blaze, allowing crews Saturday to shift to "mop-up" phase, officials said...

The last phase of "mop-up" involves rehabilitation of burned areas, including erosion control to protect streams from sediment that can be washed into them following fires.

ODF declared the fire fully contained at 6 p.m. Saturday. It estimates the fire will be controlled by Aug. 3...

 

Firefighters ‘overtake’ blaze: Wasson fire grows to 1,200 acres; 70 percent contained
Saturday, July 30th, 2005 - by Mark Freeman for The Mail Tribune (Medford, OR.) Excerpt follows:

LAKE CREEK — An aggressive attack and swarms of crews on the ground helped firefighters gain the upper hand Friday on the Wasson fire off Highway 140 near here.

Though the fire’s size estimate grew to 1,200 acres in part because of better mapping, ground crews were able early Friday to encircle the fire with trails for the first time since the blaze erupted Tuesday from a Highway 140 truck rollover.

Seven helicopters armed with water buckets and fire retardant from three airplanes thumped Wasson’s flames throughout Thursday, keeping the fire largely in check while crews scratched a trail around the fire’s tenuously held eastern flank.

As many as 750 firefighters and fire-team workers were assigned to the fire Friday, when crews took advantage of cooler temperatures and lighter winds to strengthen fire lines by burning out pockets of grass and brush.

Because of a lack of other wildfires this week, the Wasson fire has drawn significant manpower and equipment, Barsotti said. But a new 1,200-acre lightning-sparked fire Thursday near Klamath Falls drew some of state forestry’s Friday firepower here, including all three airplanes, he said...

 

Crews think they have 140 fire in hand (3 p.m. )
Friday, July 29th, 2005 - The Mail Tribune (Medford, OR.) Excerpt follows:

LAKE CREEK — An aggressive attack and swarms of crews on the ground today helped firefighters gain the upper hand on the Wasson fire off Highway 140 near here.

The fire’s size estimate grew to 1,200 acres, in part because of better mapping. But ground crews were able early today to encircle the fire with lines for the first time since the blaze erupted Tuesday after a truck rolled over on Highway 140.

 

Fire creeps toward tigers: Tricky Wasson blaze keeps fire crews busy as wind gusts help push flames toward exotic-animal sanctuary
Friday, July 29th, 2005 - by Jack Moran for The Mail Tribune (Medford, OR.) Excerpt follows:

LAKE CREEK — Southern Oregon’s largest wildfire of the year moved dangerously close Thursday to an exotic-animal sanctuary, leading fire officials to consider setting a smaller, controlled blaze in an attempt to divert flames from the scenic mountain community.

Hot temperatures and wind gusts helped the blaze jump a fire line overnight and continue to burn Thursday through steep, rugged terrain east of Lake Creek, making it impossible for firefighters to battle much of it from the ground.

"As soon as the sun set (Wednesday), we had to put all the (helicopters and air tankers) in," said Oregon Department of Forestry spokesman Brian Ballou. "About a half-hour later, that thing started gobbling up the ridges."

At least 650 acres of forestland had been consumed by late Thursday, Ballou said...

Klamath fire grows to 1,235 acres (3 p.m.)
Friday, July 29th, 2005 - The Mail Tribune (Medford, OR.) Excerpt follows:

KLAMATH FALLS — Fire crews in Klamath County are battling a fire that has so far burned about 1,235 acres of brush and timber in an area about four miles from Klamath Falls.

 

ODF News Release - Thurs., July 28th, 2005
(In PDF format - requires Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher, FREE if you need to download it.)

On Thursday a.m. July 28th, the ODF issued a second news release about the nearly 1,500-acre Wasson Fire that began July 26th near Highway 140 in southern Oregon. Full text follows:

July 28, 2005

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - SOUTHWEST OREGON NEWS MEDIA

OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY - SOUTHWEST OREGON DISTRICT
5286 Table Rock RD - Central Point, OR 97502

Contact: Mike Barsotti, (503) 508-5645
Brian Ballou, (541) 664-3328, (541) 621-4156

WASSON FIRE GROWS OVERNIGHT

The Wasson Fire grew to approximately 650 acres last night, making runs through steep, rugged canyons and dense forest. Most of fire activity was on the east and northeast flanks of the fire. Structures and a tiger sanctuary east of the fire are threatened. The Lake Creek Fire Rural Protection District is positioning its engines in those areas.

The Wasson Fire is 50 percent contained. It is unknown when the Wasson Fire will be fully contained. Unfavorable weather conditions are contributing to the fire’s continued advances. Today, high temperatures near 100, upcanyon winds in the afternoon hours, and low relative humidity will favor continued advances by the fire.

An Oregon Department of Forestry incident management team, headed by Incident Commander Jim Walker, is taking control of battling the fire this morning. Three hundred firefighters are assigned to the Wasson Fire, and a fire camp is set up at Touvelle State Park.

Fire-fighting aircraft assigned to the Wasson Fire include 8 helicopters and 3 airtankers, the latter of which are staged at Medford Airtanker Base. Engines, crews and fire management personnel and equipment are provided by the Oregon Department of Forestry, Douglas and Coos forest protective associations, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, Lake Creek Rural Fire Protection District and several contractors.

The fire started Tuesday afternoon near Milepost 19 on Highway 140, east of White City. The Oregon Department of Transportation and the Oregon State Police are managing traffic on the highway in the fire area. Traffic flow may be slowed or reduced to a single lane at times due to the fire activity adjacent to the highway.

###

 

Crews battle blaze: Fire is 85 percent trailed in steep, rocky terrain
Thursday, July 28th, 2005 - by Jack Moran for The Mail Tribune (Medford, OR.) Excerpt follows:

LAKE CREEK — While helicopters and air tankers crisscrossed the smoky skies above her home, Tina George relaxed Wednesday and said she wasn’t too concerned about the 500-acre forest fire burning less than a mile away...

George likely has nothing to worry about. Oregon Department of Forestry officials said late Wednesday that the Wasson fire was moving slowly through steep, rugged terrain north of the highway. No structures are threatened...

...The fire sparked Tuesday afternoon when a tractor-trailer rig overturned near highway milepost 19, Oregon State Police officials said.

...Four helicopters and two tankers are being used on the fire. More than 150 firefighters are working on the ground, "building a box" around the blaze, said Dave Larson, a division supervisor with Grayback Forestry of Merlin.

"This is so steep, rugged and rocky," Larson said. "But we should be able to hold it."

 

ODF News Release - Wed., July 27th, 2005
(In PDF format - requires Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher, FREE if you need to download it.)

ODF first released news about the Wasson Fire on Wednesday, July 27th. Full text follows:

July 27, 2005

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - SOUTHWEST OREGON NEWS MEDIA

OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY - SOUTHWEST OREGON DISTRICT
5286 Table Rock RD - Central Point, OR 97502

WASSON FIRE BURNS 300 ACRES BESIDE HIGHWAY 140

The Wasson Fire broke out yesterday afternoon near Milepost 19 on Highway 140, east of White City, and burned approximately 300 acres of private and Bureau of Land Management forestland. The fire is burning is steep, rugged terrain north of the highway. Vehicle traffic on the highway is limited to one lane, and roadblocks are established at both ends of the fire.

The fire is being managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Medford Unit, and the incident commander is Unit Forester Greg Alexander. Engines and firefighters on scene are from the Oregon Department of Forestry, Douglas and Coos forest protective associations, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, Lake Creek Rural Fire Protection District and several contractors. Traffic control is managed by the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Oregon State Police. Landowners have also assisted with the fire suppression effort.

Firefighters have established fire line around 85 percent of the fire’s perimeter, and estimate the fire is 50 percent contained. A troublesome area in the fire’s northeast corner kept fire crews busy all night, and is a focus point for firefighters working today’s shifts. Two helicopters are assigned to the fire for reconnaissance and water delivery, and airtankers are available at the Medford Airtanker Base.

Other suppression resources assigned to the Wasson Fire include 8 engines, 2 bulldozers, 6 20 crews and 6 water tenders. More than 150 firefighters are working day and night shifts on the fire.

A vehicle accident may have caused the fire, which was reported at 2:24 p.m. Tuesday. An investigation of the accident and the fire’s specific cause is underway.

No homes are immediately threatened by the Wasson Fire. However, the Lake Creek Fire Protection District is working with ODF’s incident managers and is available to provide structural fire protection if necessary.

###

 

Wildfire chars 100 acres east of White City: Blaze along Hwy. 140 spreads toward forest homes; 'It's a long way from being over'
Wednesday, July 27th, 2005 - by Chris Conrad for The Mail Tribune (Medford, OR.) Excerpt follows:

Fire crews Tuesday fought to contain the Rogue Valley’s largest wildfire of the year as it burned more than 100 acres of grass and forestland along Highway 140 about 20 miles east of White City.

The blaze began around 2:30 p.m. when a tractor-trailer rig overturned on Highway 140 near milepost 19, sparking the fire. No one was injured in the crash, Oregon State Police Capt. Kurt Barthel said.

Strong winds pushed the fire east toward some forest homes — one of which serves as a tiger sanctuary — just outside of Lake Creek, Oregon Department of Forestry spokesman Brian Ballou said.

"It was burning pretty aggressively between 3 and 4:30 p.m. It was being pushed by a stiff up-canyon wind," Ballou said...

Friend says driver in fatal wreck was drinking: Deceased child said to have been at a mountain party with his father shortly before crash
Thurs., July 21st, 2005 - by Robert Plain for the Ashland Daily Tidings (Ashland, OR.) - Section A

Excerpt follows:

"Alcohol may have been a factor in a car wreck near Mount Ashland that killed 11-year-old Dametri Martin of Medford, according to Jackson County Sgt. Dace Cochran and friend of the family Mike Standard, who was at a campfire with them just prior to the accident. The Chevy Blazer driven by the boy's father, Jason Martin, whose fiancee was also a passenger, rolled 225 feet down a steep hillside."

"Standard said some friends were drinking alcohol by a campfire on the mountain when the party began to get too rowdy...a fight broke out... 'I'm terribly sorry this happened,' Standard said. 'He was in no shape to drive.' "

"Police said the boy, who was not wearing a seat belt, was most likely killed instantly when he was ejected from the vehicle. Burbeula was also ejected... Cochran said the two adults likely didn't move during the night... [w]hen the sun came up, they found the child dead about 30 feet behind the car..."

 

Car plunge kills child: Mother, father injured as vehicle tumbles 1,000 feet down side of Mount Ashland
Wed., July 20th, 2005 - by Robert Plain for the Ashland Daily Tidings (Ashland, OR.) - Page 1A

Excerpt follows:

"A child died in a car accident on Mount Ashland this morning. His family was driving on a logging road on the south side of the mountain near Forest Road 20 when the car left the road and plunged 1,000 feet over the steep embankment, hitting several trees on the way down, according to Ashland Fire and Rescue."

"AFR sent one ambulance to the scene. The Colestin Fire Department had five vehicles on the scene, according to Hollingsworth and the Forest Service responded with one truck. Two sheriff's cars were seen speeding to the scene by Mount Ashland employees early this morning."

 

Drier conditions will force start of 2005 fire season
24 June 2005 - by Jack Moran for The Mail Tribune (Medford, OR.) - Page 1A

Excerpt follows:

"A series of small fires this week in and around the Rogue Valley has prompted Oregon Department of Forestry officials to declare fire season open in Jackson and Josephine counties.

"Fire season on state and private lands begins at 12:01 a.m. Monday - one of the latest season starts on record, ODF spokesman Brian Ballou said...

"Beginning Monday, debris burning is prohibited on ODF-protected lands...

"A wet spring pushed back the opening of fire season in Jackson and Josephine counties. The only other year since 1967 in which fire season was declared at a later date was in 1998, when it began in early July, Ballou said. Last year's fire season began June 4..."

 

"Recent rains dilute drought, fire season fears:  But experts warn that things can change quickly, in spite of rapidly filling reservoirs."
Mon., May 9, 2005 - The AP (Portland) / The Mail Tribune (Medford) - Page 4A.

Excerpt follows:

"Recent rains have doused talk of severe water shortages.

As a result, the most dire forecasts for farmers, salmon, reservoirs and the upcoming fire season have become less dire. Still, officials warn that the situation could change at a moment's notice if the generous showers suddenly dry up.

'Things could spin around on a dime,' said hydrologist and meteorologist Kyle Martin of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. 'We still have to plan for the worst and hope for the best.'

One of the largest impacts of the recent precipitation has been on some of Oregon's reservoirs.

... water levels in six of the 10 reservoirs run by the [ U.S. Army] corps [of Engineers] have climbed swiftly to near normal levels for this date and are within 10 feet of filling.

...The outlook for wildfires has also changed for the better. In March, forecasters predicted a fire season of historic proportions developing in the Northwest.

'The predictions were doom and gloom - the worst season in recorded history. Now you're not hearing so much talk,' said Jim Wrightson, a fire fuel specialist with the U.S. Forest Service at the Mt. Hood National Forest. Wrightson and co-workers had to postpone a prescribed burn this week: 'It's just been too wet,' he said.

Still, Oregon and Washington face an active fire season, according to the latest federal forecast. The record low snowpack in the mountains is likely to melt away a month earlier than usual, allowing mountain forests more time to dry out..."

 

"Fire Lines: Effort to educate homeowners about fire safety continues with Ashland class today." Sat., April 9, 2005 - by John Darling for The Mail Tribune (Medford) - Life, Page 1B.

Excerpt follows:

"A free Ashland class today will teach homeowners about 'firescaping' their property.

...In the class, residents in the boundaries between town and woodlands will learn how to landscape, not just for looks but to make their surroundings a barrier to blazes, said Chris Chambers, wildfire fuels reduction coordinator for the city of Ashland.

...What works, said Chambers, who is teaching today's class, is to reduce not only the amount of fuel 100 feet in each direction around your house, but also the type of plants you have.

...You create three zones around the home: the first, nearest the house, where you have fire-resistant plants and keep them well watered; the second, where you clear ground and have few trees and no bushes to ladder fire; and the third, where you thin forest to create groves, said [Kerry] KenCairn [of Ashland, who co-teaches the firescaping class].

...Firescaping is no longer an option in many parts of Oregon. Oregon's new Forestland-Urban Interface Protection Act starting this year requires homeowners on steep and/or forested land to create defensible spaces around their homes. The work must be completed within two years.

Since the law's passage, lands throughout the state have been surveyed, and affected areas have been classified as high risk (oak and grasslands) or extreme risk (conifer and brush), said Brian Ballou, wildland-urban interface specialist with the Oregon Department of Forestry in Central Point.

'The focus is fuel reduction - creating a fuel break of 30 feet for high risk and 50 feet for extreme risk, stretching to 100 feet for wood-shake roofs,' said Ballou..."

 

"Which plants resist fire best? (Firescaping resources available online)"
Sat., April 9, 2005 - The Mail Tribune (Medford) - Life, 1B

[Gives links to firescaping resources.]

 

 

Fire-related news for previous years

is included with the following fire season summaries:

The 2004 Fire Season

The 2003 Fire Season

 

 

Our files of fire-related news articles and fire season histories go back to 1981, following the Colestin Fire in August of that year that prompted the formation of the Fire District in 1982.

As time permits, we will add more previous fire season summaries to our online archives.