JACKSON CO., Ore.- Fall is very much in the air and the weather, and with it comes an end to the 2021 fire season in southern Oregon.
Tonight, a long and stressful fire season is over in Jackson and Josephine counties. There was a lot of smoke in southern Oregon this fire season, but the amount of land burned was very different on each side of the Cascades.
ODF Southwest District called an end to fire season Wednesday morning. The wet forecast in the days ahead caused the district to finally make the long-awaited announcement.
“It’s going to be a rainy week so we didn’t really have any more concerns on that front,” explained ODF Southwest District’s Natalie Weber.
After over a week at “Low” fire danger level, the remaining restrictions, specifically on debris burning, are lifting. But the district is still asking the public to be careful.
“Fire really doesn’t have a season here in southern Oregon. We live in a very fire-prone community,” Weber said. Despite drought and record high temperatures working against firefighters, the district had a very successful and safe summer with what fires did come up.
“We responded to 278 fires for 273 acres burned, so we actually had less acres burned than fires,” she explained. “We’re usually the busiest fire district in the state.” The 2021 fire season ended without a fire event progressing beyond a Type 3 incident, and Weber says it never reached the point where they had a fire get out of their control and needed to call in a team, or couldn’t handle it on the district level.
Especially after late 2020’s dramatic fires, it’s a welcome relief. But east of the Cascades, this fire season was a very different story.
“It’s just an unusual year with the drought we’ve had for several years now, lack of moisture. It just set up for a very bad fire season,” said Jennifer Case with ODF’s Klamath District. ODF Klamath-Lake District is making Friday morning the official end of fire season, one of the last districts in the state to do so. For the district, it was the longest fire season ever.
“It’s a relief to call this the end of the season. It has been a 160 days for ODF Klamath-Lake District at least, that’s a record for days in fire season,” Case explained. “Our firefighters have been going since March.” But unlike in the Rogue Valley, fires exploded on the east side of the Cascades, including the massive Bootleg fire.
“The third largest fire in state history this summer on the Klamath-Lake district.” The fire spanned over 413,000 acres and burned over two months. For both districts, the work isn’t ending with the arrival of rain though. They’re reminding the public there is still fire prevention measures you should take.
Jennifer Case says people often don’t think about those steps until the spring but now is a great time to prepare. “Fuels mitigation work, defensible space around your home- right now is the time to prepare for next season,” she said.
ODF Southwest is also reminding the public that if you want to burn debris now to call your county burn line and check with your local fire district to make sure you have the correct permits.