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Average fire number, meager acreage burned on ODF lands

Thanks to the weather and the availability of firefighting equipment, fewer acres burned this year on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Division, even though the number of fires was close to average.

During the 2019 fire season, which ran from June 1 to Oct. 1, ODF fire crews responded to 214 fires, just a hair above the 10-year average of 206, ODF spokeswoman Natalie Weber said. But just 324 acres burned, a notable drop from the 10-year average of 10,848 acres.

“We started this fire season with a lot of rain in April and May,” Weber said. “The fuels that we have in our area didn’t dry out until mid to late July, and that’s when we started seeing the fires.”

Rain in late August and September helped keep fires down, as well.

With the availability of apparatus and personnel, attacks on new fires became easier to manage. More than 98% of 2019 fires on ODF lands in Jackson and Josephine counties were smaller than 10 acres. The largest, the East Evans Creek fire near Sams Valley, burned 155 acres.

All told, 923 wildfires burned 16,867 acres on ODF-protected lands across Oregon in 2019. The number of fires statewide was about equal to the 10-year average, but the acreage they burned was significantly lower than the 10-year average of 40,734-acres, ODF data show.

“Thanks to a minimum number of wildfires on the landscape statewide, we were fortunate to have adequate resources to respond to fires on our jurisdiction,” ODF fire protection deputy chief Ron Graham said in the release.

Reach web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @RyanPfeil.

This file photo shows a crew working on the flank of the Oregon Gulch fire.