News, Tillamook State Forest, wildfire

Five wildfires of note have already burned in local ODF-protected lands

As the region barrels toward a 90 plus degree Independence Day, a local state forestry official said that five wildfires of note have already burned in the Northwest Oregon Forest Protective Association (NWOFPA) region.

“While we have just entered fire season, I wanted to alert you to the active fire year we are already having and encourage extra vigilance,” Oregon Department of Forestry Forest Grove District Forester Mike Cafferata said in a Monday email to forest operators in the areas in and near the Tillamook State Forest.

The NWOFPA region includes much of the regions of Gales Creek, Buxton, Timber, Manning, and the Tillamook State Forest, among other areas. It stretches north to the Columbia River, west to the Pacific Ocean, south to Sheridan, and east to parts of Gales Creek, the Killin Wetlands outside of Banks and to Scappoose.

He noted that some of the fires were started before the region officially entered fire season on June 14.

“This year is not off to a good start,” Cafferata wrote.

“This year is not off to a good start.”

– Oregon Department of Forestry Forest Grove District Forester Mike CafferaTA

Two of the five fires may have been inadvertently started by logging operations. One fire in Yamhill County appears to have been started by a feller buncher. Logging crews quickly contained the fire to a small area, leaving Gaston firefighters and ODF crews to do mop-up.

“This fire appears to be a good example of the system working – the crew had the equipment, training and vigilance to deal with the situation before it got out of hand,” Cafferata said.

Another fire on Hampton land may have been started by a chainsaw notching a stump, though the final cause is not yet determined.

The fire went unnoticed until ODF forest deputies spotted it at about half an acre in size.

At least one fire, however, had nothing to do with active logging crews.

Cafferata said a four-acre blaze was ignited after someone torched a camp trailer in the Tillamook State Forest. The fire spread from the trailer into nearby slash and burned up the hill until a member of the public called in the wildfire.

The public and industrial users of local forests can stay informed of current fire restrictions by visiting the agency’s Fire Restrictions & Closures website or calling their local ODF or protective association office, in this case, Forest Grove ODF offices for most of our readers at 503-357-2191.

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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