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The Observer

Oregon Department of Forestry begins fire season in Northeast Oregon District

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By Nino Paoli

Published on 6/22/23

LA GRANDE — As fire season officially begins in Northeast Oregon, leaders are feeling “pretty good” in preparation for the summer.

A dry spring prompted the Oregon Department of Forestry to begin fire season on forest and range lands protected by the Northeast Oregon District on Thursday, June 22, introducing public use restrictions, as fire danger increases across the region, according to an ODF press release.

 

“For Central Oregon District and Northeast Oregon District, we’re at full staffing and are ready for this fire season,” Northeast Oregon District Forester Matt Howard said.

Despite fire season starting over a week earlier than last year, Howard said that it usually begins on or around June 24. However, Howard expects it to be a “fairly busy summer” regardless of the average start date.

ODF has 18 fully staffed fire engines across the two districts, strategically placed fire dozers and hand crews that will assist in putting out early flames, detection cameras monitored by dispatch centers and aircraft, including helicopters with buckets, a Helitack crew, single engine air tankers used to scoop up water and fixed-wing airplanes to scope out fires after lightning storms, Howard said.

“Really at the heart of our complete coordinated system is our landowner and industrial operator contingent,” he said. “That is always there and ever-present to assist us in fire suppression, not only on the lands that they own, but their neighboring lands as well.”

Rob Pentzer, the Central Oregon district forester, said that statewide, there is access to three ODF teams that can help support the region on particularly “bad days.” Pentzer said another plane serving the region is equipped with an infrared platform that can detect fires early.

Read the full article on The Observer's website here.

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