Monday, November 27, 2017

Central Oregonians Show Their Commitment to Preparedness

With some of the great fall weather in Central Oregon, residents in the Bend area took advantage of the Half Price Yard Debris Sale and delivered 9,991 cubic yards of flammable yard waste to Deschutes Recycling. In partnership with the FireFree program, Deschutes Recycling offered the Half Price event to encourage residents to recycle yard waste instead of risking an escaped debris fire by burning it. Residents in Jefferson County also responded by bringing 4,866 cubic yards of yard debris to Box Canyon Transfer Station in Madras during their FireFree event. 

This brings the total FireFree material collected this spring to 14,857 cubic yards in the regional area!

“With the long fire season we had this year, locally and throughout the state, provided a great reminder for residents that fire preparedness is a year round activity,” says Alison Green, Program Coordinator for the FireFree program.  “The Fall Half Price Sale and events regionally give residents a terrific alternative to dispose of their flammable yard waste without burning,” adds Green. 

From October 30th through November 10th local residents continued with their defensible space projects by cleaning up pine needles, brush and tree limbs from around homes to help prepare their properties for wildfire next season.
 FireFree is a year-round effort to educate community members and increase resident participation in preparing for wildfires.  Residents are encouraged to visit www.FireFree.org for more information about defensible space, reducing the structural vulnerability of homes and getting prepared for fire season.

For more information about FireFree activities in your area, call your local fire department or Project Wildfire at 541-322-7129.



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

California Wildfires highlight local lessons


Central Oregon's robust wildfire preparedness programs throughout the region have allowed for sustained success during our local fire seasons. The local success is the result of active collaboration by private and public agencies, entities, groups, and individuals to address the three most prevalent challenges and goals across the landscape: creating fire resilient landscapes, fostering effective wildfire response, and creating fire-adapted communities. Even with the local success, the recent devastating fires in California offers several sobering lessons for Central Oregon residents. With 1,500 homes and more than 15 lives lost, Project Wildfire takes this opportunity to remind residents about preparing themselves and their family for disasters.

With some simple steps you are able to protect your home and community from a wildfire. The only way to ensure that your property is protected is to define your defensible space. Regardless of what your neighbor has done on their property, be the example; create your defensible space. It is the individual taking responsibility for their home that can save neighborhoods. The partners of Project Wildfire emphasize that whole community approaches, such as Firewise Communities, can make a world of difference.

"Defining the defensible space around your home is the most important thing you can do to protect your home and neighborhood," says Alison Green, Program Coordinator for Project Wildfire. "Starting with your own personal preparedness and translating that to your neighbors will increase your whole community's resiliency, not only to wildfires but to all disasters."

To define your defensible space, keep grass and weeds cut low and always be prepared to respond to wildfire. With this in mind, Project Wildfire urges you to take a look around your property in the "home ignition zone" where glowing embers can ignite spot fires and vulnerable areas like decks, patios and fences that can spread flames to your home.

Where are your most vulnerable places for glowing embers to ignite your home?
  • Are your gutters and roof valleys free from debris like pine needles and leaves? Clean them out.  Despite a metal or asphalt shingle roof, the buildup of gutter debris provides the necessary fuel for the glowing embers to ignite adjacent fascia boards or siding – most often made of wood.
  • Do your shrubs and weeds provide a path of fuel for a fire to reach your trees or home?  Reduce shrubs and other "ladder fuels" around your home to reduce the threat of ground fires igniting nearby trees, or your home.
  • What can catch fire on your deck or patio or near your fence?  Remove weeds, shrubs or any combustible materials from around, under or on top of your deck, patio or wood fence.   This includes toys, planters, construction materials, furniture and cushions along with even small piles of pine needles or leaves.
  • Is your wood pile near your home or other combustible vegetation?  Move wood piles at least 20 feet away from your home or other combustibles.

Being prepared for an evacuation is also critical to your family's survival in disasters. Making sure you have your 5 P's: People, Pets, Pills, Photos, important Papers, and your 72-hour kit ready to go. Keep these things in a spot in your home that is easily accessed so you can leave in a hurry.

"Evacuations rarely ever happen when we are all at home and ready for them to occur," says Green. "When a disaster strikes, it could be 3 am when your whole family is asleep or during the workday. An ounce of evacuation planning can save your family from a true disaster."

With the long fire season behind us, it's a hard ask of residents to maintain their vigilance. With the arrival of fall weather, our fire risk has eased but it hasn't disappeared altogether; stay aware of the local conditions and/or restrictions in your area. Even with many fire districts opening burn season, residents need to call their local fire district to ensure the district is allowing burning at this time, that it is a burn day, and to obtain any necessary permits.

For more information on Firewise visit www.firewise.org. For more information on Project Wildfire visit www.projectwildfire.org or call 541.322.7129.

For information on local FireFree events visit www.firefree.org.



Thursday, September 21, 2017

Fuels Reduction Success Story in Eagle Crest

Lightning traveled down the tree &
struck the ground here
Following a long smoky fire season in Central Oregon, incredible success stories of previous areas where the fire fuels (vegetation) have been reduced prior to smoke in the air have been coming forward. One notable story was shared from Eagle Crest who's residents have been making admirable strides in making their neighborhood more adapted to wildland fire.  They have been recognized as a Firewise Community since 2015 as well as working diligently on Firewise ideals for the better part of a decade. They embarked on a attitude change within the community on how to achieve a true high desert landscape and fire resiliency in the same plan. Residents in Eagle Crest have gone from changing home plans/layouts to save juniper trees from being cut down to planning landscape vegetation management that has improve their fire safety as well as the health of their landscape. 

During one of our many lightning storms this summer a strong thunderstorm cell packing heavy rain, wind and lightning passed through Eagle Crest. One of those lightning bolts struck a juniper tree in the Vista Rim Trail Corridor initiating a brush fire that quickly spread uphill toward a Vista Rim home.  A nearby landscape crew was the first responders followed by Redmond Fire and Rescue.  Their Community Service Manager noted that if it wasn't for the diligent efforts of the Ridge Community Wildfire Protection Committee and the work done by the Heart of Oregon Corps (wildfire protection treatment contractor) to create defensible space in the area, the fire would have been much harder to contain and put out.

The series of photos below to illustrate how the lightning traveled down to the ground to start the brush fire, headed up the hill and even jumped a distance to start another brush fire.  Community members are celebrating this wildfire event is a good demonstration (with a happy ending) of the value of the Ridge Community Wildfire Protection Program and the Community Wildfire Protection Committee members working to create defensible space on resort common areas. The program also supports Ridge Owners to establish defensible space around their homes and lots.  Each year Eagle Crest Resort, owner properties and owners and visitors themselves are safer from the damaging effects of a wildfire event because of this effort.  





Saturday, August 19, 2017

Evacuation Preparedness Makes a Difference


With fires burning throughout Oregon and particularly in Sisters, Oregon, residents should be prepared to evacuate in a wildfire situation at a moments notice. Resident near ongoing wildfires might be wondering what they can do to be better prepared for possible evacuation. Project Wildfire urges residents to prepare for evacuation by knowing the statewide evacuation levels, registering their cell phones for emergency alerts, and having their evacuation kit packed for themselves, their family, and pets. Oregon uses three evacuation levels after consideration and approval by the Oregon State Sheriff's Association, Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office, Oregon Office of Emergency Management, Oregon Fire Chief's Association, and the Oregon Department of Forestry.











As the fire danger increases and continues Project Wildfire and our partner agencies want to ensure you understand the three level evacuation system and where to get current information regarding fire activity.

Level 1: Be Ready

There is an incident in your area and residents should be aware of potential evacuation. Be aware of the danger, monitor emergency services sources and local media for information.  Those persons who will need additional time to exit an area or have health conditions (especially respiratory conditions that could be made worse by smoke) should consider leaving. You are encouraged to prepare or even move livestock and pets out of the area.  Be prepared to leave if conditions worsen.

Level 2: Get Set

There is significant danger in your area and residents should be prepared to leave at a moment's notice. You are encouraged to leave and should do so as soon as possible. If you choose to stay, you should be able to leave immediately if conditions worsen.  You MAY have time to gather necessary items, but doing so is at your own risk.  Entry to evacuated areas may be denied until the hazard subsides.

This may be the only notice you receive. Emergency services cannot guarantee we will be able to notify you if conditions rapidly deteriorate.

Level 3: Go Now!

There is immediate and imminent danger and you should evacuate immediately. DO NOT DELAY LEAVING to gather any belongings or make efforts to protect your home. Leave immediately and as quickly as possible. Drive carefully, turn on your headlights, and follow any directions from emergency services personnel. Entry to evacuated areas will be denied until the hazard subsides.

"During fire season, making sure that you and your family are always on ready for an emergency evacuation can make all the difference," explains Alison Green, Program Coordinator for Project Wildfire. "Having a plan and a emergency 72-hour kit ahead of time can allow for your family to take some extra precautionary measures if you are given a Level 1 Notice."

One integral piece is making sure your cell phone is registered to receive emergency notifications. This can be accomplished on Deschutes County 911 registration page. When packing your evacuation kit or 72-Hour kit start with the vital 5 P's: People, Pets, Pills, Photos, and important Papers. Also, make sure your 72-hour kit has: phone chargers, a flashlight with extra batteries, first aid kit, prescription pills, eyeglasses, any essential equipment for infants/elderly, water, sleeping bags, clothing for each family member, and your 5P's. Keep these things in a spot in your home that is easily accessed so you can leave in a hurry.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

7 steps to avoid starting a wildfire during your Eclipse2017 travels

Arrive early, stay put, leave late; don’t let your vehicle start a wildfire.

The August 21 Solar Eclipse is certain to be memorable. With this worldwide event heading to Oregon during the peak of fire season, ODOT and the Oregon Department of Forestry want to make sure YOUR memories don’t include starting a wildfire.

In the days surrounding the event, an estimated one million eclipse enthusiasts from all over the world are expected to travel within Oregon’s path of totality. And with 70% of wildfires caused by people, the odds are not in our favor.

Luckily, you can do your part to better the odds and prevent wildfires by taking a few precautions:

  1. Secure tow chains. Make sure all vehicle parts are secure and not dragging. A loose safety tow chain or muffler striking a rock or pavement can send a shower of sparks into dry vegetation.
  2. Check your tires and make sure they receive regular maintenance. Once a flat tire shreds, the bare wheel can shower sparks on roadside vegetation.
  3. Maintain your exhaust system. A worn-out catalytic converter can cast off extremely hot pieces of material into dry roadside vegetation.
  4. Check underneath your car. Make sure it’s free of oil leaks and that fuel and brake lines are intact.
  5. Stay off the grass. Avoid parking or idling on dry grass. Vehicle exhaust and dry vegetation is a dangerous combination.
  6. Stay on the road. Off-road driving is prohibited in most areas during fire season.
  7. Be prepared. Keep a cell phone, water, a shovel, and fire extinguisher with you in case a fire starts.

Of course, always follow recreational forest laws (www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx). Report fires immediately to 911. Use TripCheck.com or call 511 to check your planned route. For more eclipse travel tips and links, visit www.oregon.gov/ODOT/Pages/Eclipse.aspx.

As a reminder, there are no recreational fires or campfires allowed in Central Oregon due to fire risk. Check your local regulation and Know Before You Go. plan to have a good time in Oregon during the August #OREclipse. Plan ahead so you can!