ODF announces end of 2023 fire season

Salem, Ore.— With temperatures cooling and widespread rain soaking the state, all Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) protection districts have terminated fire season restrictions, marking the end of the 2023 Oregon fire season declarations.

Year to date, there have been 975 fires on ODF-protected lands resulting in 17,968 acres burned. Three ODF Type 1 Incident Management Teams (IMT) were deployed this season: one to the Golden Fire in the Klamath-Lake District, and two to the Tyee Ridge Complex in the Douglas Forest Protective Association district. Statewide to date, regardless of jurisdiction, there have been 1,909 fires that have burned 190,507 acres.

“This year, I would say was the year of partnership,” Mike Shaw, Protection Division Chief, said. “We had several opportunities this year to help to our local, state, and federal partners keep Oregon safe from wildfire, and vice versa,” said Shaw.

Starting in May this year, ODF deployed firefighter IMT members to Alberta, Canada through the Northwest Compact—an agreement created to facilitate assistance in wildland fire pre-suppression and suppression efforts between member agencies. In August, an ODF Type 3 IMT was deployed to manage the Wiley Creek Fire to assist our partners at The Willamette National Forest. ODF also supported local fire service agencies and the Oregon State Fire Marshal multiple times throughout the summer by deploying aircraft when called upon and sharing personnel and other resources. Lastly, the department remained engaged with partners during long-term fire events and offered resources or advice wherever needed.

ODF and association firefighters responded to nearly the same number of fires this year as the 10-year average, but kept the acres burned at approximately 16% of the 10-year average, which was 119,526 acres burned. This is due to the agency’s aggressive approach to initial attack to preserve natural resources, protect communities, and increase firefighter safety, as well as investments of additional staffing and aircraft resources from the 2021 Legislature.

Overall, the department put out 94 percent of fires at 10 acres or fewer this year.

The start and end of fire season restrictions and regulations are set by each forest protection district based on the conditions in their area including drought, climatic forecasts, and season trends. These restrictions and regulations of activities prone to start wildfires, such as debris burning and certain equipment use, are intended as preventative measures during times with elevated wildfire risks. The arrival of steady, soaking rain coupled with cooler temperatures and shorter days usually triggers the closure of fire season. The end of fire season removes ODF imposed fire restrictions on ODF-protected lands. However, many structural fire departments in Oregon still require a permit for debris and slash 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 and mitigation efforts. Clearing vegetation, creating defensible space around homes, and safely burning debris piles are just a few ways ODF is working with local landowners, members of the public and fellow fire response agencies to mitigate wildfire risk.

For more tips on how to keep yourself, your loved ones and your property safe from wildfire at any time of year, visit ODF’s Fire Prevention website or Keep Oregon Green’s website.

ODF protects about 16 million acres of private, county, state and federal forest and grazing lands in Oregon.