Extreme fire risk in the Pacific Northwest prompts Bureau of Land Management to close recreation sites
PORTLAND, Ore. – Extreme fire activity, fueled by a rare fire weather event with low humidity and strong east winds of 15 to 30 mph and gusts up to 50 mph, occurred on several fires located in western Oregon this week. To prevent human-caused fire and reduce wildfire potential, the Bureau of Land Management has instituted several closures and new fire-use restrictions.
“Public and firefighter safety is our top concern,” said BLM Oregon Washington State Director Barry Bushue. “We expect another challenging day as the winds pick up speed in some areas, and we encourage everyone to keep up to date with their local emergency officials for the latest information on evacuations.” Across the BLM’s Northwest Oregon District, all developed campgrounds are closed to the public, and dispersed camping is prohibited. Members of the public may not enter closed recreation areas. This temporary closure covers the northwestern part of the state, west of the Cascade Range and north from Cottage Grove to the Columbia River, and includes popular spots, such as Fishermen’s Bend campground, Wildwood recreation site, Alsea Falls recreation site, Shotgun Creek day use area, and Row River Trail.
Within the Roseburg District’s Swiftwater Field Office, all BLM-administered lands east of Interstate 5 are closed to the public.
The Coos Bay District is closing developed recreation sites east of Highway 101, with the exception of the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area. Impacted areas will be closed for seven days beginning September 9. In southwestern and central Oregon, campfires and open flames are prohibited on BLM-administered lands across the Coos Bay, Medford, and Prineville Districts. Under these restrictions, campfires or any other type of open fire, including the use of charcoal briquettes, is prohibited on BLM-administered lands. Visitors can use portable cooking stoves that use liquefied or bottled fuels.
In eastern Washington, the Border Field Office is restricting camping, day use, and access on BLM-administered lands. This temporary closure includes popular spots such as the Twin Lakes, Coffeepot Lake, Lakeview Ranch, and Pacific Lake Recreation Areas.
Fire officials encourage the public to be diligent with all ignition sources on public lands, ensuring all cigarette butts are properly extinguished in an ashtray or dish of water and spark arrestors are in place on all motorized equipment. Additionally, all motorized recreationists should park in areas cleared of vegetation, as the undercarriage of a vehicle can be hot enough to start a fire. Officials also want to remind the public that using explosive target material, such as Tannerite, and the use of explosives and fireworks continues to be prohibited on all federal public lands.
The extreme fire danger and behavior have prompted the closure of recreation sites while fire suppression crews respond to the incidents. As it becomes safe to do so, firefighters will begin to assess the fires and their impacts in alignment with sound risk management practices.
Multiple new fires started on Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and private lands in the region have prompted Level 3 “Go” evacuations. Moderate to heavy smoke impacts from the fires are expected to continue along the western slopes of the Cascades and into the Willamette Valley.
Personal safety is paramount. Stay informed on air quality ratings and more by visiting the Oregon Smoke Blog at http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/. Learn how to stay safe from wildfire smoke at https://www.cdc.gov/air/wildfire-smoke/default.htm. Nearby residents and visitors to the area are encouraged to check with local emergency officials for the latest information on evacuations.
A Red Flag Warning for the persistence of critical fire weather on the heels of this historic September event will remain in effect until 8pm Wednesday, September 9. Conditions during this time will remain favorable for continued rapid fire spread.
For the latest road and weather condition updates, visit https://www.tripcheck.com/.
Additional fire information is available on Inciweb.
Please call 911 to report any signs of new fires.
Please observe public use restrictions and help us limit potential new starts during this time. A list of personal use restrictions, as well as closure orders, is available at https://www.blm.gov/programs/public-safety
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in the 11 Western states and Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. In fiscal year 2018, the diverse activities authorized on BLM-managed lands generated $105 billion in economic output across the country. This economic activity supported 471,000 jobs and contributed substantial revenue to the U.S. Treasury and state governments, mostly through royalties on minerals.