FIRE SEASON NOTICES:
It is incumbent upon residents and/or owners to know and abide by fire season regulations.
Current fire season regulations are always posted within our district at our Ski Rd. and south district kiosks (see below for locations), and here on our website on our current fire restrictions page.
You can now sign up to receive fire season updates by email of any changes in the fire danger level and public regulated activity restrictions during fire season. (This is much faster than when residents will receive notification by postcard.)
Be in the know - find out as soon as we do!
Email notices will include fire season information updates only (without attachments).
To sign up, please provide us with your email address. (This email goes to CRFD's webmaster. You will receive an initial confirmation email as soon as possible that you have been added.)
Your email address will be used for the above purpose only, and will not be shared.
You can unsubscribe or re-subscribe at any time.
Thank you for choosing to be an informed member of the Colestin community!
Our Public Posting Sites:
In CRFD's bulletin case at the postal kiosk on the top road of the district (Mt. Ashland Ski Road), at approx. mile marker one, on the left, next to the covered postal lock boxes and row of mail boxes);
On our mini-kiosk at CRFD's Fire Station One at 1700 Colestin Road, (on the right-hand side of the station house);
In the bulletin case at our south valley kiosk (to the right of our fire indicator sign structure) on lower Colestin Rd. near the Oregon-Calif. border;
Here on our website, where many documents can also be downloaded and printed.
Last update: Sat., January 13,
Jackson County's Health & Human Services January 2018 Flash Report states that "Influenza like illness (ILI) activity is widespread throughout the United States, including Oregon. Oregon is at a high level for ILI activity."
Reported seasonal flu activity in Jackson County peaked during the last week of December 2017; although it decreased during the first week of January 2018 (from 4.4% to 2.5%) and is less than the state average (5.1%), "the Southern Oregon region labs reported testing 1,111 samples for influenza" during this same period. Also, the "Oregon Health Authority has received two reports of pediatric deaths in Oregon during last month" [December] caused by flu.
Last year's flu season was the worst on record in Oregon, according to the Oregon Health Authority (Source: OHA's CD Summary - see below). This season's flu is reportedly very serious in its effects in comparison to previous years. Yet the vaccine only has a 30-40% rate of effectiveness, partly because of the strains of flu that are active, and also because of mutations in the flu virus since the vaccines for this season (based on the 3 and 4 most common strains identified) were developed.
Despite this low rate of effectiveness, getting a flu shot may still prevent getting flu, and helps to minimize the effects if you do get the flu. Additionally, protecting yourself helps to limit the flu outbreak and can help protect your family members or others with whom you are in close contact:
"Vaccination, although far from perfect, remains the best prevention. CDC estimates the 2016-2017 flu vaccine effectiveness was only 39%, but that was good enough to prevent approximately 5.4 million flu-related illnesses, 2.7 million flu-related doctor's visits and 86,000 hospitalizations due to influenza" (Source: OHA's CD Summary - see below).
While the flu season generally peaks between December and February, it can remain active into May. Over the 34-year period from the 1982-83 season through 2015-16, flu activity most often peaked in February (14 seasons), followed by December (7 seasons), March (6 seasons), and January (5 seasons) [Source: Centers for Disease Control (CDC); see below].
Given the concerns with this year's flu, we encourage you to get a flu shot if you haven't yet.
For questions, please contact Jackson County Public Health at 541-774-8045.
For more information about influenza, symptoms, and details on this year's flu and vaccines, see:
The Oregon Health Authority - Public Health Division - Flu Prevention (includes the OHA's weekly "Flu Bites Report" flu activity summary and the CD Summary, "Influenza: What you need to know for the 2017-2018 season").
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - Influenza (flu) home page.
The CDC's interactive 2017-2018 seasonal flu map (below) shows the spread of flu in the U.S. from the start of flu season (with the first reported cases) in October 2017 (Week 39) to early January 2018 (Week 1).
The map initially shows the most recent week available. To re-set the timeline to the beginning, click the far-left double-arrow (continuously) or "grab" and drag the red timeline indicator at the top to the left side. "Play" to see the flu's spread week by week through the season. (Drag the red indicator to move to individual weeks along the timeline.)
WINTER SEASON REMINDERS
Your local volunteer Fire District would like to remind you that your participation in preparedness and prevention is always your best defense:
The La Nina (wetter, colder) weather pattern is again in this winter’s forecast, and the NOAA predicts "exceptional mountain snow" for Oregon (Special Districts Assn. of Oregon Review, Fall 2017, p. 9).
Prepare for winter hazards and emergencies: Maintain a three-week home supply of non-perishable food, water (1 gallon per day per person), and other basic necessities and emergency supplies and resources. Review our Winter Emergency Preparedness Planning & Safety Reminders pamphlet for more information and suggested supplies lists.
The SDAO also suggests: "Check your roofs and gutters for debris and clogs. When snow hits, a clogged gutter can allow for water or ice to dam up and actually enter the exterior building walls by going under shingles or other roofing material. If you are in a mountainous area or are subject to freezing conditions, consider installation of heat cables. Placed at the edge of the roof close to the gutters, heat cables help keep ice dams from forming and damaging the gutters. If you have a flat roof, cleaning scuppers to allow water to flow out is critical.
Check the roof for valleys and depressions that allow water to remain and to re-caulk any areas where caulking has failed. "This [past] summer was exceptionally hot which of course leads to drying out of caulking and other weather-proofing materials. Branches left on flat roofs can puncture roofing membranes under the weight of snow resulting in interior damage or injury... if the roof should collapse."
Please keep your residences as accessible as possible during the winter. Despite our best efforts, fire district response time can be complicated by snow/ ice on roads and at residences. Provide strategic turnouts so two vehicles can pass, as well as turn-around space at your residence. If we can’t reach you during a fire or medical situation, we may not be able to help you at all.
Trim or thin out potentially hazardous trees and branches near / over your access road and driveway that could fall under a snow load or become weakened due to soil saturation. Caution: If power lines are involved, call us first. Power companies are NOT responsible for these (property owners are), yet these lines are very dangerous and need special handling. We will assist you to locate a qualified professional to do it.
Prepare for winter travel: Carry an emergency “go-kit” in your vehicle that includes snack food & water for each passenger & pet, warm clothes & blankets, a radio, flashlights & extra batteries, first aid items, a basic tool kit, jumper cables, shovel & ice scraper, road salt/sand, and traction devices.
Service your vehicle(s) before winter; keep the gas tank full; check road conditions before heading out, tell someone your itinerary, and carry a charged cell phone and portable charger. During winter weather, only travel if necessary.
To review chain requirements, see Know Before You Go - Snow Zone Chain Requirements and Conditional Closures on the Siskiyou Pass - Siskiyou Pass Restrictions (Oregon De, Moving Ahead, Dec. 15, 2017, pps. 12 & 13).
Clean your stove stacks and chimneys if you haven’t yet – or hire a qualified professional. Have them professionally inspected for creosote build-up, wear in the pipe lining & metal fittings, or brickwork cracks. Stove pipes and chimneys should always be cleaned at the beginning of wood-heating season and periodically thereafter, depending on the type of wood burned, and the frequency of use.
During use, maintain a three-foot minimum clearance between any flammable materials and heating appliances, especially space heaters. Do not use an open fireplace without a spark glass or screen; do not leave your stove unattended while the drafts are still open. Use only a metal bucket for ashes in a combustible-free area for at least 24 hours before disposal.
Heating equipment causes 16% of all home fires, and 19% of all home fire deaths.* We have recently had two fires in our district caused by stoves used with uncleaned pipes - do not let your home be next! For more information, see Stoves & Flue Fires - Prevention & Handling.
For more on portable electric heater fire hazards and safety, see Reducing Fire Hazards for Portable Electric Heaters (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission - CPSC; pdf, 1 page).
Do not overload electrical outlets: Overloading a circuit can cause overheating, leading to an electrical fire. A circuit can become overloaded if too many electric devices are plugged into it. Each added electric device increases the electric current flowing through the wire. When the electric current load is greater than the capacity of the wire, the wire is overloaded.
Plug only one high-wattage heat-producing appliance (such as a coffee maker, toaster, space heater, etc.) or other high-wattage appliance into one outlet at a time, following the manufacturer's instructions for the electrical capacity required.
Use extension cords for temporary wiring only, and only for the capacity and use they are rated for. Extension cords are not as safe as permanent house wiring. Installed wiring can carry more current and is protected from accidental damage that could cause shock or fire. Do not use an extension cord or a power strip with heaters or fans, which could cause cords to overheat and result in a fire. For more, see Household Extension Cords Can Cause Fires (CPSC; pdf, 1 page).
ALERT: Power strips and multi-prong outlets do not add more electrical capacity - they only re-distribute the available capacity to separate outlets. To ensure that your electrical outlets can safely meet your power load, have additional circuits or receptacles added by a qualified electrician. Electrical distribution and lighting equipment accounts for 16% of all home fire deaths.
Avoid other electrical fire causes: Replace cracked and damaged electrical cords. Avoid pinching cords against walls or furniture or running them under carpets or across doorways; avoid wrapping them tightly around any object or attaching them to anything (walls, baseboards) with nails or staples. Heavy weights or traffic can damage cords, crushing insulation or breaking wire strands, creating a fire or shock hazard. Wrapped cords trap heat that normally escapes loose cords, which can lead to melting or weakening of insulation. Nails and staples can tear or crush the insulation or cut the wires inside, presenting a fire or shock hazard.
Ensure light bulbs are at appropriate wattages for the fixtures/lamps they are used in: a bulb that is a higher wattage than recommended may overheat the light fixture, wiring or nearby combustible materials, leading to a fire. If you aren’t sure, use a bulb 60 watts or less.
Make sure all plugs fit snugly into outlets: Loose-fitting plugs can cause overheating and fires. A loose connection cannot carry much current without getting hot. Unusually warm outlets or switches may indicate an unsafe wiring condition exists, such as a loose electrical connection that can start a fire. (Some dimmer switches may become warm during normal use.) Be sure appliances are not overloading the outlet. Stop using them until an electrician checks the problem.
Turn off/unplug all electrical appliances when not in use and before leaving home, in particular, countertop electrical appliances and the clothes dryer, as overheating is an all-too-common problem. Also, clean the lint trap filter often and the dryer duct vent to the outside at least once a year. (For more, see Overheated Clothes Dryers Can Cause Fires (CPSC; pdf, 1 page) and Clothes Dryer Fire Safety (U.S. Fire Administration - USFA & FEMA - Federal Emergency Management Association; pdf, 1 pg). Finally, turn off/unplug holiday decoration lights before leaving.
Be sure the fuses in your fuse box are the correct size for the circuit: If correct size is unknown, have an electrician identify and label the size to be used. The wrong size fuse can allow too much current to flow and cause the wiring to overheat, creating a fire hazard. Annually test your circuit breakers in the circuit breaker box by flipping them on and off several times: Circuit breakers must be exercised periodically to make sure they have not become stuck and to keep them in good working order.
Electrical arcing and sparking in home wiring can cause fires that typical household fuses and circuit breakers do not respond to until a fire has already begun. Arcing accounts for most home electrical fires. Arc fault circuit interrupters, or AFCIs, can provide increased protection from this potential source of fire by monitoring the electrical current in a circuit and shutting off the circuit when unintended arcing occurs. For more about AFCIs, see Preventing Home Fires: Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) (CPSC; pdf, 1 page).
Finally, to reduce the chances of severe or fatal electrical shock as well as electrical fires, consider installing ground fault circuit interrupters. A GFCI (or GFI) is an inexpensive electrical device that can either be installed in your electrical system or built into a power cord; when a GFCI detects a ground fault, it interrupts the flow of electric current. To learn more about GFCIs, see the CPSC Fact Sheet (CPSC; pdf, 2 pages).
For more on electrical fire hazards and home electrical safety, see:
Remember fire safety in the kitchen: cooking is the leading cause of home fire (46-48% annually) and fire injuries (44 %) and is tied (19 %) for the second leading cause of home fire deaths. Unattended cooking is the leading factor contributing to these fires.
Frying poses the greatest risk of fire. Don't leave your stove cooking unattended ("stand by your pan"). Have a lid handy to cover stovetop flames if necessary, as well as a fire extinguisher rated for kitchen grease fires. Also, keep the top of your cooking range and area above it free of combustibles (e.g., potholders, paper, plastic utensils). For more, see Cooking (NFPA).
Unattended candle use is one of the primary causes of home fires. Candle use creates a potential fire danger in your home similar to that of other fire sources. Candles should be used only on stable, non-flammable surfaces, with safe clearance from anything ignitable. Above all, do not leave burning candles unattended. If you need to leave the room where a candle is burning, even “just for a moment,” make sure it’s out first.
Smoking is a very serious fire hazard: While smoking causes the least number of all home fires (5%), it has been the leading cause of home fire deaths for decades, and remains so (22 %). Two-thirds (66%) of these home smoking material fire fatalities resulted from fires originating with upholstered furniture or with mattresses or bedding.
Install smoke alarms on every level of your home (including the basement), outside all sleeping areas (in hallways), and in all bedrooms, if you haven’t yet.
Smoke alarms save lives: a fire can double in size every 30 seconds. On average, you have less than 3 minutes to escape a house fire. Most fire deaths are caused by smoke – not flames. Most fire deaths and injuries occur between midnight and 8 a.m. when people are asleep.
It is a proven fact that you are 4 times more likely to survive a home fire if you have a working smoke alarm than if you don’t. (Having smoke alarm protection may also help you to qualify for a lower insurance premium; check with your insurer.)
Maintain your smoke alarms: They cannot help protect you if they don’t work! Test smoke alarms monthly throughout your home to ensure they are working. Replace batteries yearly and replace alarm units every 10 years.
For more, see Smoke Alarms (NFPA) and Home Fire Warning Systems: Smoke Alarms & Detectors (on our Stoves and Flue Fires page).
Have a home escape plan and practice it, at least once during the day and once at night. You should have two known ways out from every place in your home, and a pre-designated meeting place outside. If your smoke alarm sounds, get out and stay out – do not re-enter for any reason. If you have to escape through smoke, get low and go. Call 9-1-1 from outside your home.
For more resources on the above topics, see
If you have questions, please call us at (541) 488-1768. Thank you for participating in fire safety and prevention. Please enjoy the holidays safely, and have a fire-safe winter season.
*Statistics used above are from the National Fire Protection Assn. and the U.S. Fire Administration.
HOLIDAY PLANNING NEEDS TO INCLUDE FIRE PREVENTION AND SAFETY
News Release from Oregon State Fire Marshal
With the holiday season in full swing, State Fire Marshal Jim Walker urges citizens to remember fire prevention when decorating and entertaining.
Sent via FlashAlert Newswire.
In a News Release on Fri. am Oct. 20th, the Oregon Dept. of Forestry declared the end of the 2017 fire season. All fire season restrictions were lifted. Full details.
You can sign up to receive email updates about fire season, including any changes in the fire danger level and related changes in fire restrictions. (This is much faster than when residents will receive notification by postcard, but does not replace postcards.) Learn more here (below, left sidebar).
2017 EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY FAIR: Saturday, September 16th, 10:00 to 2:00 PM at the Rogue Valley Mall in Medford: "Local emergency agencies and non-profit organizations will display vehicles and equipment, give away preparedness & safety items along with valuable information to help you before, during and after a disaster." "Great opportunity to see the safety community backing up our community every day! Stop by the Mall! And share this opportunity with your family and friends!"
Fire Season 2017 Information:
Last Update: September 29, 2017: RRSNF Announces that the Joint Information Center is Closing on Saturday, September 30, 2017. View/read the RRSNF's News Release (9/29/17) (pdf format).
Previously - through Fri. 9/15/17 - Fire & Smoke Conditions:
"A Southwest Oregon Joint Information Center (JIC) has been established in Medford to serve as a ‘one-stop-shopping’ spot to get information on fires and information related to fires currently burning on federal and state lands. Agencies represented at the JIC include the USDA Forest Service, Oregon Department of Forestry, Coos Forest Protective Association, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service." (JIC News Release, 8/29/17)
Jackson County Emergency Management's Sara Rubrecht says: "For those of you who are trying to keep track of all of the fire information out there right now, please see the information [in the 8/28/17 Joint News Release (pdf) also reproduced] below, as [the Joint Information Center] is an incredible resource! All of the updated fire information can be found in one place… http://swojic.blogspot.com."
JOINT INFORMATION CENTER OPENS IN MEDFORD
"Southwest Oregon is currently experiencing very high fire activity. Multiple wildland fires are burning on more than 138,000 acres of federal and state lands, with the majority of acres burned on Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest lands. The large fires include the Chetco Bar Fire (Brookings), the Miller Fire (Applegate Valley) and the High Cascades Complex (Prospect).
"As these fires have generated a great deal of interest from both the public and the media, it is important to all agencies involved that the public has the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe and informed.
"Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Supervisor Rob McWhorter emphasized, “It’s imperative that we share timely and accurate information, and highlight the tremendous suppression, structure protection and public safety efforts being made on behalf of the communities we serve.”
"Primary responders to the fires include the Forest Service, the Oregon Department of Forestry, the National Park Service, Coos Forest Protective Association, and the Bureau of Land Management in cooperation with Jackson County and Curry County law enforcement and emergency services, as well as local fire departments and the Oregon National Guard.
"To better meet the information needs, the agencies have established a Joint Information Center (JIC) located in Medford to serve as a ‘one-stop-shopping’ spot to get fire information.
"A comprehensive blog has been developed that will provide fire and evacuation maps, fire updates, scheduled public meetings, national and regional fire links, air quality & information and ways the public can help. That information can be accessed at www.swojic.blogspot.com.
"The JIC will produce a daily comprehensive large fire summary which will be posted on the blog. The individual fires will also continue to send out their daily updates. If additional large fires start in southwest Oregon during the 2017 season, those fires will also be included. The JIC can be reached at 541-608-1243 and is staffed from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. daily. We look forward to serving you!"
Additional direct links:
From the Jackson County Public Health Division (8/30/17): Wildfire Smoke Guidance (pdf) - An Urgent Public Health Activity Report Within Jackson County:
This bulletin covers precautions to take during smoke, a Visual Assessment Using the Visibility Index Guide, a link to the DEQ's Air Quality Index, some very useful information about smoke masks, and additional links to information on smoke and wildfires in Oregon.
From the Oregon Office of Emergency Management (8/19/17 & 8/20/17):
"OEM's online Real-time Assessment and Planning Tool, known as RAPTOR, has updated information on wildfires and any wildfire-related road closures. People can access RAPTOR through OEM's web page or they may go to www.tinyURL.com/OregonRaptor. It is important that travelers stay informed about conditions in the area in which they are traveling and take appropriate precautions.
Weather and smoke levels can vary dramatically -- even hourly -- during wildfires. Visit oregonsmoke.blogspot.com for the latest information on smoke conditions in your area." "This site has the best and latest information about smoke conditions in your area.
"Some people, such as those with chronic heart or lung disease, children and the elderly may experience health effects even when the air is unhealthy for a short time. It is important to take precautions based on your individual health and the smoke levels around you. This may mean staying indoors when air quality is poor. It may also mean not exercising during these conditions."
For the latest information on southern Oregon fires, see ODF's Facebook page: @ODFSouthwest, or ODF's website at www.swofire.com.
For information on all fires, see https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/.
Check the NWS Forecast Office Medford, OR, online at http://www.weather.gov/mfr/ for current weather information and details.
Always report any possible fires to 9-1-1. (This is reported to us and our backup agencies.)
Thank you for your continued vigilance during the remainder of fire season.
COMMUNITY PICNIC-BBQ UPDATE: A huge thanks to everyone who attended and made this event on September 10th a success! Details, see Events.
The August 10th, 1981, Colestin Fire - A Retrospective
The Colestin Fire began during dry, intensely hot weather, on the heels of four consecutive days of triple-digit 110-degree and over temperatures, on Monday, August 10th, around 12:30 pm just as the day was about to reach its peak heat.
The day began like any other day, until a spark from young children playing with matches in the yard of a home along Colestin Road (near what was then the historic Colestin Stage Stop Hotel, owned by the Avgeris family) - in the inhabited, densely forested heart of the valley - ignited the underbrush and rapidly involved the tinder-dry forest.
Driven by highly erratic, shifting winds that afternoon through the steep, rugged terrain, the fire grew to hundreds of acres within a mere handful of hours. Although the fire took days to contain and control, most of the immense damage was done within hours from the time it began.
Firefighting efforts by the five fire agencies that responded from outside of the area assisted by the CCC and two other hot-shot crews were severely challenged by the fire's crazy path as it changed directions numerous times, at one point almost reaching Mt. Ashland Road.
Ultimately, while no lives were lost and only three minor structures were consumed, over 540 acres burned (some accounts say over 700 acres), including two million board feet of timber; damage to the local watershed was also extensive. Altogether, the Colestin Fire took more than 700 firefighters and three days to contain; firefighting costs topped $1 million.
At the same time that season, at temperatures of over 100 degrees in some areas and also in bone-dry conditions, a dozen other major fires burned an estimated total of 47,000 acres in four western states; later that same week alone, new lightning-caused fires scorched approximately 20,000 more acres across Oregon.
1981 was one of only a handful of years over the past 38 years on record as "years with low snowpack," and of those years, was one of the few when "dry conditions persisted through the winter," resulting in "extreme" fire danger conditions earlier than usual that fire season.*
Much was learned in the aftermath of the Colestin Fire, prompting the beginnings of what would become the Colestin Rural Fire District.
The extreme fire danger conditions at the time ensured that any fire would be an enormous challenge.
Yet other significant problems also plagued an effective response to the fire: the lack of local phones, no fire protection in the valley, and the confusion that arose with multiple outside agencies responding to the fire in the absense of any local fire agency and without any pre-established chain of command, operating procedure or coordinated plan.
Most notably, residents realized the need for local fire protection: the fire could have been contained to 10 acres or less if there had been a fire truck in the valley; the nearest fire response agencies at the time were in Central Point, Oregon, and Yreka, California, both over 45 minutes away.
The need for better communications was also evident; consequently, a campaign to get phones into the valley began.
For the next two years following the Colestin Fire, thanks to the ernest efforts of the community members at that time and their many informal discussions and meetings, together with numerous well-attended all-community general meetings, the new all-volunteer fire protection efforts began to take shape.
Third-generation Colestin residents Steve Avgeris and his brother, John, and their logging outfit, were experienced firefighters by profession; this, in combination with their effectiveness in responding to the Colestin Fire, resulted in Steve's unanimous appointment in 1982 by the community as the Fire Chief of the newly forming fire protection unit.
In August of 1982, after much battling with the phone company, phones were brought into part of the valley. Also that year, an attempt was made to get the State of Oregon to re-open a fire substation in the valley. However, the State rejected this proposal, and suggested instead that we form a Rural Fire District.
In 1983, with all of the residents in attendance at a community meeting in support of forming an official Fire District, the complicated process to receive an official charter began. The Oregon Dept. of Forestry supported this effort with a recommendation to the Jackson County Commissioners, citing ODF's inability to provide adequate protection in our area.
On August 24th, 1983, just over two years after the Colestin Fire, our new volunteer District received its legal mandate as a fire protection district from Jackson County and became a legal government entity directed to "provide fire protection services" in the state of Oregon.
The Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal then assigned us our official identification number of 4-210 in accordance with ORS 478.970 through 478.982 for statistical and insurance rating services.
Prior to the formation of the Colestin Rural Fire District, the closest fire protection agencies that would respond to fires in our area were from Central Point, Oregon, and Yreka, California - both 45 minutes away.
The first Board elections were held November 8th, 1983. Steve Avgeris was officially elected as Fire Chief. Firefighter training, begun earlier that year, continued that fall on Tuesday evenings every week.
The first fire truck was purchased ("Old Blue"), the District held a fundraising rummage sale, and we received our first Title IV grant. The total money raised in 1983 was $3,958.19.
Fundraising was the highest priority of 1984; a letter went out to landowners asking for donations and more participation; the District held a raffle, another rummage sale, and a craft fair, and also received many donations of equipment from various groups. The raffle alone raised over $2,000. A total of $3,208.11 was raised that year. Meanwhile, training continued.
In 1985, the loan on the first fire truck was paid off, and we purchased a CB base and acquired more equipment, including a trauma kit. Late in the year, a second fire truck was purchased, leaving an outstanding loan of $2,500 on that truck. Fundraising consisted of another raffle, a July 4th booth in Ashland, rummage sales, and again receiving the Title IV grant. The total raised for the year was $6,728.07. Most importantly, a core group of firefighters was formed.
Key priorities for 1986 were paying off the loan on the second fire truck, improving communications, and firefighter training.
The long process of building the District and developing a trained, effective group of community hot-shot firefighters that began in those early years has continued for many years since to the present, with participants giving more time and dedicated effort to meetings, fundraising events, trainings, and incident responses than most of the rest of the present-day Colestin community will ever know.
Those who have become residents in more recent years are largely unaware of the struggle required and undertaken by those who pledged their own money, often in the hundreds of dollars, household by household, to collect the funds needed to build our fire station by 1990, or the many hands involved in its construction, not the least of which was the contribution of the land given through a "100-year lease" by Steve's mother, the late Katina Avgeris, for the fire house.
Likewise, many in our community don't realize that the district's tax base, voted into law in November of 1994 (first effective by November of 1995), taxes property structure improvements only, and not unimproved land, since our charter is to protect structures, while ODF is primarily responsible for protecting the wildlands within our district. Further, our tax base was another hard-won accomplishment that provides us with stable funding, but it still doesn't cover most of what our volunteers do - rather, it provides only for most of the equipment and resources they have to do it with.
Ultimately, the District is able to continue to provide its services only because of a relatively small group of dedicated volunteers who are committed to serving the community, in various capacities, including the firefighters during the decade that followed who vigilantly chased the CORP (Calif.-OR. Pacific Railroad) train in its daily incursion through our valley on its way into Oregon, making certain that any sparks emitted during the heat of the day did not cause Colestin Fire #2. (The train, now under new management and after discussions with our District about the dangers of daytime transit, runs at night.)
Finally, most residents are also unaware of the continued vigilance of our Chief, and occasionally others, as needed, during lightning storms, or even the predicted threat of lightning, watching the district for possible hits from up on the 40SO10 old forest service road above White Point, or from elsewhere in the district, patrolling, on alert, geared up and ready to go whenever necessary, preventing significant fires with rapid initial attack to any newly discovered fire starts.
The district's actual history and lists of volunteers and their efforts could go on for a long, long time. Yet the one factor common to all of it is that when people work together, regardless of our individual differences, we can achieve positive results that benefit everyone.
The functioning and survival of the District as an effective fire agency and community service depends upon the individual commitment and participation of everyone in our community.
We thank all of you who support this District and participate in fire prevention, as well as all those who have participated in the past, in ways great and small, helping to make this still all-volunteer rural fire protection district the effective local fire agency here in our valley that it is today.
Extreme Heat Tips:
The following additional information is re-posted from FEMA's 7/27/17 E-Newsletter:
Warning Signs of Heat-Related Illness
Beach days, barbecues, concerts, and other outdoor activities can mean
fun in the sun. However, heat can take a toll on the body.
Signs of Heat Exhaustion
• Heavy sweating
• Move to a cooler location.
• High body temperature (above 103°F)
• Call 911 immediately — this is a medical emergency.
"Additional information on beating the heat and
avoiding heat-related illness can be viewed online at www.oregon.gov/oha/ph/Preparedness/Prepare/Pages/PrepareForExtremeHeat.aspx."
ODF News Release - 7/28/17 - FYI:
July 28, 2017
Contact: Melissa Cano, Public Information Officer
If You Fly, We Can’t:
On Sunday, a grass fire off Interstate 5 and milepost 55 in Grants Pass was quickly knocked down at a half-acre; however, every firefighter on the ground and in the air faced an additional risk when a hobby drone was spotted in the sky.
The powerline-related fire was called in at roughly 4:10 p.m. Sunday, July 23rd. Within minutes, five engines, one water tender and one hand crew from the Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest Oregon District, one engine and one water tender from Rural Metro Fire Josephine County and two engines from Grants Pass Fire arrived on scene and began containing the fire. An ODF Southwest Oregon District, Type 2 helicopter, was dispatched shortly after to assist in the initial attack. Upon arrival, the helicopter was requested to perform a reconnaissance mission along the I-5 corridor in order to guarantee that the fire did not spot or spread to areas that firefighters on the ground could not see. With the water bucket deployed and already in tow, the helicopter headed south along I-5 searching for additional fire starts. The pilot had every intention of returning to the fire after the scouting mission; however, an ODF engine crewman spotted a drone heading toward the active fire scene just moments after the helicopter changed direction. The pilot was immediately contacted, left the area to create distance between himself and the drone, then landed safely at our Grants Pass headquarters. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will be investigating the incident moving forward. ODF Southwest Oregon District would like to encourage anyone who sees a drone over an active fire incident to call 9-1-1.
“It jeopardizes the safety of our pilots, firefighters and the public. We are asking that people help spread this message so a drone interfering with firefighting operations does not happen again,” said ODF Southwest District Forester, Dave Larson.
As unmanned aircraft system (UAS) technology has become increasingly popular, so have run-ins between hobby drones and wildland firefighting agencies, like the Oregon Department of Forestry, that consider it a hindrance. This is the first time aerial operations have been grounded by a drone in the Southwest Oregon District. Thankfully, the pilot, firefighters and the public below were not harmed by the drone intrusion. Many people often forget that a single hobby drone is enough to take down firefighting aircraft.
When drones interfere with firefighting efforts, a wildfire has the potential to grow larger and cause more damage. Every second counts. Not to mention, every time an aircraft is grounded due to drone interference, thousands of dollars are wasted on take-off and landing alone. It is important to note that just because a helicopter is not visible in the sky, or flames are no longer noticeable on the ground, does not mean that fire scene is no longer ‘active.’ Aircraft are often orbiting a wildfire long after flames are knocked down. In addition, resources on the ground and in the air often revisit fire scenes in order to ensure there is no heat radiating from the ground that could potentially spark a new fire. As long as there are boots on the ground, the fire scene remains active.
Recreational drone use on a wildfire is prohibited by the FAA due to amount of risk in regards to human life. According to the FAA, “drone operators who interfere with wildfire suppression efforts are subject to civil penalties of up to $27,500 and possible criminal prosecution.” For further information about drone regulations, visit: www.knowbeforeyoufly.org.
Remember, if you fly, we can’t.
Please join ODF Southwest Oregon District in sharing our message on Facebook and YouTube. Together, we can keep everyone in the air and on the ground safe allowing us to attack and suppress wildfires faster than if we worked alone.
Melissa Rae Cano
Ham Radio Instruction for Emergency Preparedness:
6/23/17 UPDATE: The Cascade Amateur Radio Enthusiasts Club and the Rogue Valley Amateur Radio Club hosted a local Amateur Radio Field Day in Ashland at the ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum on Sat. June 24th to Sun. June 25th. The event was part of the national amateur radio field day held every year by members of the National Association of Amateur Radio in the U.S.
Jackson County Amateur Radio Emergency Services (JCARES) ham radio operators were also there. Radio operators held a 24-hour practice drill starting at 11:00 am Sat. to 11:00 am Sun. The event was open to the public, to encourage learning about how ham radios work and operate; participants were able to use ham radios themselves under the supervision of licensed operators.
In the event of a disaster, ham radios provide a way to communicate "in a global network" when other means of communications that depend on power or cell towers are likely to fail.
Licensed ham radio operators in the Rogue valley are "already connected with the Jackson County Sheriff's Office and Community Emergency Response Team, which is activated in major emergencies" and are able and prepared to step up where needed to use their skills to bridge the communications void.
"JCARES offers free 12-week classes at the Smullin Center [in Medford] to prepare ham radio operators for the tests. The next one starts Aug. 6. Costs are $45 for two books and $15 for the test."
For more, see the Fri. June 23rd, 2017, Mail Tribune article "Emergency preparedness: Hams to the rescue" by John Darling, Local, p. B1., from which most of the above information and the excerpts were taken. Abbreviated alternate versions of this article are available online as "Ham radio operators plan field day for Saturday" and "Amateur Radio Field Day coming to ScienceWorks."
Further information: The National Association of Amateur Radio (ARRL - the American Radio Relay League); see under Licensing, Education & Training.
Ham radios are often the only means of communications during a catastrophic event, and in rural areas, ham radios may be the only reliable means of communications. Becoming licensed allows amateur radio operators to register their qualifications and offer their services during emergencies.
The 12- to 14-week courses are taught by CARE licensed amateur radio operator volunteers, in the tradition of “elmering,” or mentoring those new to amateur radio. Curt Hadley is the public information officer for CARE and one of the course instructors; Joe Gunderson is another CARE ham and the lead course instructor.
The courses include hands-on instruction on proper operating procedures, the electronics of ham radio operations, and simulated emergency scenarios.
Courses for each level are currently being offered twice a year. The most recent course began February 5th, but according to CARE’s website, anyone interested can still join a course “if they are willing to do a bit of catch-up.”
Classes are held from 2 – 3 pm Sundays in Room 106 at the Smullin Center adjacent to Rogue Regional Medical Center on Barnett Rd. in Medford.
The classes are free; the two course manuals cost $22.50 each; the licensing test costs $15.00.
Those interested can also call either Curt Hadley at 541-261-2648 or Joe Gunderson at 541-531-7119.
Source material for the above information is from the two websites
listed above, and from the Medford Mail Tribune article, “Emergency
Preparedness: Manning the airwaves: Ham radio enthusiasts are on the
air in times of disaster,” by Tammy Asnicar, published
on Monday, February 20th, 2017, Local – pgs. A3 & A2.
FIREFIGHTER TRAINING began in April and ran through June 16th - learn more on our Training page.
CRFD Board Election: Two of our Board positions were open in the Jackson County Special Districts Election on May 16th, 2017. Both positions are for four-year terms. Both incumbent Board members Pam Haunschild (Position #1) and Peggy Moore (Position #2) ran for re-election unopposed and were re-elected. For further information about our Board and Board Elections, see the Board Election section of our personnel page.
CRFD Spring 2017 Kiosk Poster Contest - Update
Our Spring 2017 Kiosk Poster Contest ended May 31st; see results and learn more here.
CRFD's Provisional [Final] Adopted Budget for 2017-2018 is posted on our Budget page, which also has budget process details.
FYI: Jackson County's Maintenance Hours for Colestin Road during the Winter of 2016-17:
Some residents have asked us about road maintenance on the county road (Colestin Rd.) this past winter, with particular regard to periods of impassibility due to heavy amounts of snow. We have also had our own concerns about such road closures, as we were forced out of service to unreachable portions of our district at times.
One of the results of our productive meeting with several people from Jackson County's Roads Dept. who were invited and attended our most recent Board meeting, during which we discussed these concerns, is that we now have an accounting of the maintenance hours that Jackson County's Roads Dept. spent this past winter on Colestin Road. While the County's budget for road maintenance on rural roads is stretched thin (priority goes to higher-density areas), the Road Dept. has allocated as much time and as many resources to Colestin Rd. as they were able to; their accounting shows that this is more than some residents are probably aware of. We therefore wish to share that information with our residents (available here, as a JPG image scan of the document we received).
CRFD and the Road Dept. will be continuing to communicate more closely, and will be working together to do all we can to help meet our respective agency charters and needs, in order that future situations will be able to be addressed in as timely and effectively a manner as possible.
LEARNING OPPORTUNITY: LIVING ON YOUR LAND (LOYL) CONFERENCE: Saturday, April 22, 2017 at The Redwood Campus of Rogue Community College in Grants Pass:
"LIVING ON YOUR LAND – TREE SCHOOL ROGUE presents a one-day
conference for small farmers, small woodland owners, land owners/managers,
wildlife enthusiasts, backyard gardeners, and those interested in our
region’s natural resources. Expand your knowledge and leave with
a renewed enthusiasm
"Living on Your Land–Tree School Rogue features 27 classes on a wide variety of topics related to natural resources and land management. [...] classes are taught by working farmers, foresters, or other experts in their fields. [...]
Classes include: Firewise Fuel Reduction; Ecologically-Based Thinning and Stand Management in Southwestern Oregon Forests; Working on Your Forestland, Safely and Effectively; Biology and Management of Oaks and Oak Woodlands; Geology of SW Oregon: Everything You Wanted to Know; Leaving a Legacy: Land Conservation with Land Trust Agreements; Native American Land Stewardship; Financial and Technical Assistance for Landowners: A Panel Discussion; The Oregon Conservation Strategy; and much more.
Classes run from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Each class is 90 minutes long, and you can participate in up to four during the day (2 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon) with an hour break for lunch (which you can purchase for $10 extra, or bring your own).
"Registration must be completed in advance by April 14 (sorry, no walk-ins allowed). The registration fee is only $50 per person."
"... copies of this brochure can be requested from our
office or downloaded from our website at
Announced in FEMA’s 2/17/17 e-news:
Apply to Join FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council:
"Youth across the Nation have the opportunity to make a difference and transform the resilience and preparedness of their communities and beyond.
"Students in the 8th, 9th, 10th, or 11th grades who have
engaged in community service or are interested in emergency preparedness,
are encouraged to apply to serve on the U.S. Department of Homeland
Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Youth Preparedness Council
SMOKE/CO ALARMS RECALL NOTICE
- in Consumer Reports March 2017
print issue (p. 20)
"Kidde is recalling about 3.6 million NightHawk combination smoke/CO [Carbon Monoxide] alarms. Once the backup batteries are replaced, the units can fail to chirp when they reach their seven-year end of life, which may lead users to think they're still working. That means that consumers may have no alert during a fire or CO incident. The alarms were sold online and at electrical distributors and home centers nationwide from June 2004 through December 2010.
"What to do Replace the alarm. Contact Kidde at 855-239-0490 or go to kidde.com [http://www.kidde.com/home-safety/en/us/] for a free replacement alarm or a discount on a new one."
More information is available from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission at: https://www.cpsc.gov/recalls/2016/kidde-recalls-combination-smoke-co-alarms.
To be sure that the smoke/CO alarms, fire extinguishers, or other products in your home that you rely upon have not been recalled with problems or safety concerns, check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website at: https://www.cpsc.gov/.
The Red Cross presents a new Prepare Out Loud program on Tuesday, March 7th in Ashland, and also on Thursday, March 9th in Medford:
"Together we can rise to the challenge of a Cascadia Earthquake. The American Red Cross Prepare Out Loud presentation will empower you to be ready for disasters of all kinds (including a Cascadia earthquake) by taking practical steps to start preparing, being vocal about your preparedness and encouraging others to start preparing."
This program is open to the whole community. For more info, see the Prepare Out Loud - Ashland Event flyer; the RSVP site is: www.redcross.org/PrepareOutLoudAshland, and Prepare Out Loud - Medford Event flyer; the RSVP site is: www.redcross.org/PrepareOutLoudMedford.
LOCAL WINTER CONDITIONS AND ROAD SAFETY INFORMATION:
Our January Board Meeting was cancelled due to the unusually large amounts of snow, locally resulting in impassable roads and potentially unsafe driving conditions.
Mid-January snows also caused the upper portion of Colestin Rd. to again become impassable. The County plow operator re-opened the road from the Ski road down to the CA-OR border on Jan. 19th.
UPDATE: Colestin Rd. up to Mt. Ashland Rd. is open. While there is now some passing space for two-lane travel, the road surface is very slushy and/or muddy, rutted and difficult to negotiate.
Should anyone become stuck and/or injured on the upper road, our ability to effectively respond with district vehicles may be significantly slowed at this time.
If you are not a resident on the upper section of Colestin Rd., please do not attempt to use it.
Those who choose to travel it do so at their own risk and should take every possible safety measure, including carrying and/or using traction devices, using headlights, and using audible signals on blind turns.
We are still in winter. Conditions may change at any time. Remember: "In the snow, go slow."
We will continue to provide updates here as new information becomes available.
Any immediate emergencies should always be reported by calling 9-1-1.
Winter weather safety and storm preparation reminders for home and for travel are available at the NWS's Snow Safety and Links series of pages; see Before a Winter Storm.
Weather updates are available from the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Medford.
If you plan to travel, "Know before you go" by consulting ODOT's TripCheck information and roadcams.
SURPLUS FOREST SEEDLINGS - last update, 17 March 2017:
The U.S. Forest Service has surplus forest seedlings in limited supply that have been made available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis until they sell out. The list is released to both government and public entities.
The most recently updated list (3/17/17) of surplus stock is available here (pdf doc).
The previous 2/14 update states: "We received a lot of inquiries concerning the Incense Cedar lot (#150277); because of the interested we’ve added more stock to our surplus list." These seedlings will sell quickly so anyone interested should act quickly to reserve them.
The lifting and packing of seedlings at the J. Herbert Stone Nursery (JHSN) has been completed for this season. Seedlings are pre-packaged in boxes of various commercial quantities and will not be re-packaged for smaller quantities; however, large quantities can be shared with interested neighbors and friends.
For more information about seedling types, seed sources, quantities, etc., and to place an order, email Juan Ortiz, U.S. Forest Service Admin Operations Specialist, J. Herbert Stone Nursery, 2606 Old Stage Rd., Central Point, OR, at: firstname.lastname@example.org. (Phone: 541-858-6100).
January 26th is the anniversary of the last known Cascadia subduction-zone megathrust earthquake in the Northwest, estimated to have been at a magnitude of 9.0, and from Japanese tsunami records, calculated to have occurred at about 9:00 in the evening, in the year 1700.
Studies over the last several decades of Cascadia-region historical and geological records also show that another subduction-zone megathrust quake (at or near M 9.0) will occur, with increasing probability, sometime between now and 400 to 600 years from the last one (in 1700).
As the local emergency first-response agency to a disaster event, we believe that "forewarned is forearmed" and that pro-action ahead of time - becoming informed and taking preparatory steps - best serves our community and, indeed, everyone.
Earthquake Report: 1700 Cascadia subduction zone 317 year commemoration - Jay Patton of Humboldt State Univ., Dept. of Geology
Last Cascadia Great Earthquake and Tsunami; 313 Years and Ticking
- January 24, 2013
Cascadia Subduction Zone - Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN)
History Of Earthquakes In Cascadia and Earthquake Scenarios - Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup (CREW). For background info on the above 'Earthquake Scenarios,' see "CREW Releases New Cascadia Earthquake and Tsunami Scenario" (2013).
For more information about the earthquake hazard in our region and what you can do to prepare, see our Emergency Preparedness page (earthquake preparedness events, starting at the page top, and the earthquake information and preparedness section below).
Seasonal Reminders from your local volunteer fire district:
Prepare for winter hazards and emergencies: Maintain a three-week home supply of non-perishable food, water (1 gallon per day per person), and other basic necessities and emergency supplies and resources. Our Winter Emergency Preparedness & Survival pamphlet and other printable resources, available on our Winter Emergency Preparedness page, have suggested supplies lists and further information.
Prepare for winter travel: Carry an emergency “go-kit” in your vehicle that includes snack food & water for each passenger & pet, warm clothes & blankets, a radio, flashlights & extra batteries, first aid items, a basic tool kit, jumper cables, shovel & ice scraper, road salt/sand, and traction devices. Service your vehicle(s) before winter; keep the gas tank full; check road conditions before heading out, tell someone your itinerary, and carry a charged cell phone and portable charger. During winter weather, only travel if necessary.
You can find much more information here on our website, starting with our pages on Winter Emergency Preparedness, Winter Fire Safety, and Emergency Preparedness (general; topics by category), as well as our 2015_16_Winter_FIRE_SAFETY_PAMPHLET (pdf).
Test smoke alarms monthly throughout your home to ensure they are working. Replace batteries yearly and replace alarm units every 10 years. Home fires are often deadly not because smoke alarms aren’t installed, but because they aren’t working, delaying discovery. (See the smoke alarm section of our Stoves and Flue Fires page for correct alarm placement information.)
Clean your stove pipes and chimneys and have them professionally inspected for creosote build-up, wear in the pipe lining & metal fittings, or brickwork cracks. Maintain a three-foot clearance between combustibles and heating appliances. Do not use an open fireplace without a spark glass or screen; do not leave your stove unattended while the drafts are still open. Use only a metal bucket for ashes in a combustible-free area for at least 24 hours before disposal. (See Stoves and Flue Fires and Firewood for more information.)
Have a home escape plan and practice it. If your smoke alarm sounds, get out and stay out – do not re-enter for any reason. If you have to escape through smoke, “get low and go.” Call 9-1-1 from outside your home.
Do not leave burning candles unattended. Candles should be used only on stable, non-flammable surfaces, with safe clearance from anything ignitable.
Turn off/unplug electrical appliances before leaving home, including the clothes dryer, which can overheat; clean lint traps & vents at least once a year.Keep your residences as accessible as possible during the winter, to help us reach you if necessary: trim or thin out potentially hazardous trees and branches near / over your access road and driveway that could fall under a snow load or become weakened due to soil saturation. Caution: If power lines are involved, call us first; we will assist you to locate a qualified professional.
Outdoor burning: While the Colestin Rural Fire District does not require burning permits, it is always a good idea to call and let us know that you are burning debris, as a safety precaution and so that we do not misallocate resources responding to false alarms. For outdoor burning safety tips, see Slashburning.Please also be aware that prescribed (controlled) burns may be conducted periodically on some private lands within our district during the later fall through spring by the Lomakatsi Restoration Project or other professional contractors. All burning is contingent upon receiving air quality clearance from Oregon Department of Forestry smoke management forecasting. Burning alert notices, information and updates are posted here on our website.
Remember fire safety when preparing meals during the holidays: The U.S. Fire Administration tells us that “Cooking is the main cause of home fire and fire injuries” (48% annually) and that “Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires – the number of home fires doubles” (2.1 times the annual average).
Cooking safety tips: “Keep an eye on what you fry”; “Stand by your pan.” Stay at your stove when boiling, frying, or broiling, where you can catch spills or hazardous conditions before they become a fire. Be prepared: Keep a large pan lid or baking sheet handy in case you need to smother a pan fire. Wear short or rolled up sleeves while cooking. Turn pot handles towards the back of the stove so you don’t bump them. Keep the area around the stove clear of anything that can burn.
When roasting, use a timer. When frying, use a fryer with thermostat controls to avoid overheating oil. Thaw food completely first (ice causes oil to splatter). Don’t overfill the pot with oil (the overflow after adding the food causes a fire hazard). Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the fryer. Always use the fryer outdoors.
Use these tips to help keep your holiday season fire-safe: “Let the firefighters have dinner with their families, not yours.”
Check out our Thanksgiving Day USFA Fire Statistics & Cooking Tips flyer for more detailed fire safety cooking tips from the U.S.F.A.
Call us at (541) 488-1768 with any concerns or questions.
Thank you for participating in home fire protection and prevention. Please enjoy the holidays safely, and have a fire-safe fall-winter season.
Received Wed. 10/26/16 through Jackson County Emergency Management:
Community Awareness Event -
Seismic risks and vulnerabilities in Oregon
Date: Monday November 7, 2016 – 6-9pm
Location: The Historic Armory, 208 Oak Street, Ashland
"The Oregon Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) will be hosting a community awareness event to highlight seismic risks and vulnerabilities in Oregon.
"We are partnering with The Historic Armory, the City of Medford, Jackson and Josephine Counties, ODOT, and Ashland CERT for the event. The Armory has donated the use of the theater space to present a showing of the Oregon Public Broadcasting and Oregon Field Guide documentary UNPREPARED.
"A panel of local engineers and emergency managers as well as Allison Pyrch, a geotechnical engineer featured in the documentary, will be available for questions following the film. The panel will answer questions about the Cascadia Event as well as other local seismic risks and how Ashland and Southern Oregon are preparing.
"The event is free and open to all ages. Door prizes will be awarded at the conclusion of the event.
"The award winning UNPREPARED documentary highlights our seismic risks in Oregon and the potential for major disruption after the expected 9.0 Cascadia earthquake and tsunami.
"It also starts the conversation about what we as Oregonians can do to be more prepared, both individually and as a community."
Rogue Valley Citizen Alert Test Scheduled For Monday, October 24th at 10am.
This is a scheduled bi-annual test of the two-county Citizen Alert
Emergency Notification System.
SHAKEOUT ENCOURAGES EARTHQUAKE SAFETY AND PREPAREDNESS
SALEM, Ore., October 4, 2016 -- "It's time to practice your "Duck, Cover and Hold On" as part of the annual Great ShakeOut! [ . . . ] This annual earthquake preparedness drill began in California in November 2008. It was the largest earthquake drill in U.S. history up until that time, and involved 5.3 million participants. The Great ShakeOut gained great acclaim and is now held across the country and around the world each year on the third Thursday of October. In 2015, approximately 600,000 people in Oregon participated. This year's Great ShakeOut will take place at 10:20 a.m. on October 20. Register to participate at www.shakeout.org/oregon." Read the full OOEM news release (text & photos; pdf).
The Oregon Dept. of
Forestry has called the end of the 2016 fire season
Thank you for helping us to
get through fire season safely and successfully,
End of Fire Season Notes and Reminders:
13 October 2016
The Colestin Rural Fire District would like to thank everyone living within our district as well as our many visitors for helping us get through the 2016 fire season safely and successfully. Your participation in wildfire prevention and cooperation with fire season regulations is essential in this success, and is the key reason we have been able to avoid a large fire for the past 35 years.
If you do any outdoor debris or slash burning this fall, please follow good safety procedures. Also, while we do not require permits, a call ahead of your burn helps us to avoid false alarms.
As we head into later fall and winter, please remember to test your smoke alarms every month, and to replace batteries as needed; also check the dates on the back and replace the alarm itself if it’s over 10 years old. This small time investment can help save lives in the event of a fire, and is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family to keep everyone safe.
If you heat with wood, please clean your stove pipe or chimney beforehand and again periodically during the season to avoid creosote build-up. This is crucial: creosote is a time bomb that can cause a sudden, extremely hot fire, threatening lives and property. This and safely operating wood burning appliances are key elements of home fire safety.
Also remember to keep stocked up with food, water, any necessary medications, and other basic essentials: prepare for emergencies by having enough supplies to last for at least several weeks. Arrange emergency contacts ahead of time, and discuss plans with family members. You can also sign up for Emergency Alerts (Jackson County’s Citizen Alert!) to get emergency information quickly (phone, mobile phone, email, text), at: www.jacksoncounty.org/alert.
A final reminder: Please drive safely and within posted speed limits. The roads within our district were not designed for high-volume travel and are mostly rural, non-paved surfaces with many blind turns and narrow sections. Avoidable accidents is a sad way to have to use our resources.
More information on home fire safety and much more is available here on our website. If you have any questions or concerns, you can always call us at 541-488-1768.
Thank you for continuing to practice fire safety and for being a part of our volunteer fire district’s fire prevention efforts. Have a safe and pleasant fall.
This is Fire Prevention Week - the following information is quoted from FEMA's E-newsletter, 10/6/16:
October 9-15, 2016 is Fire Prevention Week [http://www.nfpa.org/public-education/campaigns/fire-prevention-week].
This year’s theme is “Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.”
According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), it’s important to remember that smoke alarms do not last forever. Check the manufacture date on the back of your alarms. If it is older than 10 years, replace the alarm because the sensors become less sensitive.
Take the time during Fire Prevention Week to test your smoke alarms.
Make sure you have an alarm on every level of your home, inside and
outside each sleeping area, and in the basement.
• Does everyone know two ways out of each room, in case one
way is blocked by fire?
Once you have developed a home fire escape plan, practice it to be sure everyone can get out safely!
The USFA recommends everyone have working smoke alarms, practice a home fire escape plan and consider installing home fire sprinklers in their home. Find more information about smoke alarms, escape plans, and home fire sprinklers as well as other fire safety topics at www.usfa.fema.gov.
• Check out the short video "Change Your Clock - Change Your Batteries!" (1:10 min.) at the U.S. Consumer Safety Product Commission's site: https://www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/Video/change-your-clock-change-your-batteries.
• The Consumer Product Safety Commission's (pdf) document "Smoke Alarms – Why, Where, and Which?" (CPSC Pub.559): https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/SmokeAlarmWhyWhereandWhichCPSCPub559RevisedJuly2016PostReview%282%29.pdf
From Jackson County Emergency Management - High Priority with request to share - received Thurs. Oct. 6:
Hurricane Matthew Update - Red Cross Seeking Volunteers for deployment . . .
The Red Cross Cascades Region is seeking additional volunteers to help with Hurricane Matthew and other disasters. [ . . . ] Individuals interested in deploying with the Red Cross to help with this relief effort and others are encouraged to attend a training [ . . . ]
[UPDATE: Trainings, including one in Medford on Oct. 13th, are now past; that and related information has been edited out from this news release. Anyone wishing to assist the Red Cross may contact the Cascades Region Communications Director - see contact info below. Remaining relevant news release information is as follows:]
DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY APP Everyone should download the Red Cross Emergency App to have safety information available on their mobile device, including emergency weather alerts, safety information and shelter locations. Red Cross apps are available in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
HAVE A DISASTER KIT Include a gallon of water per person - enough for three days, a three-day supply of non-perishable food, family and emergency contact information, copies of important papers and a map of the area. More details on what to include are available here.
HURRICANE SAFETY People living in the path of the hurricane should listen to local officials and obey any evacuation orders. Other safety steps include:
-Know your evacuation route.
MAKE A DONATION The work of the American Red Cross starts long before a hurricane makes landfall in the United States. For example, we have warehouses stocked with disaster relief supplies, thousands of trained workers, and more than 320 mobile response vehicles on standby year-round to be ready to help people in need. If we didn't maintain these resources 24/7, we couldn't get help to people in a timely fashion--but we depend on donations from the American public to be ready.
Help people affected by disasters like hurricanes, floods and countless other crises by making a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small across the United States. Visit redcross.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS to make a donation.
About the American Red Cross The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org/Cascades or visit us on Twitter at @RedCrossCasc.
For disaster emergency preparedness information, see FEMA's site at: https://www.fema.gov.
Posted on EurekAlert! The Global Source for Science News by Oregon State University.
Public Release: 5-Aug-2016. The following is an article excerpt:
"CORVALLIS, Ore. - A new analysis suggests that massive earthquakes on northern sections of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, affecting areas of the Pacific Northwest that are more heavily populated, are somewhat more frequent than has been believed in the past.
"The chance of one occurring within the next 50 years is also slightly higher than previously estimated.
"The findings, published this week in the journal Marine Geology, are based on data that is far more detailed and comprehensive than anything prior to this . . . "
Read the complete article, "Subduction zone earthquakes off Oregon, Washington more frequent than previous estimates," online at:
Can you help us by providing a clean water source for our fire trucks?
We need more emergency-use clean water sources within our district for our fire trucks.
Although our current water source, through the Fruit Growers Supply Co. in Hilt, is abundant, the natural sediment in the water adversely affects our district equipment and clogs the mechanism on our water tender.
Fruit Growers will begin cleaning their water source, which will help greatly. Meanwhile, we also have two new sources for clean water on private properties in other sections of the south end of the valley. All of these changes increase the fire protection potential of the south end of the valley.
Ideally, however, we would like to have a handful of additional sources in the central and upper areas of our district as well.
For our purposes, water quality does not need to be potable drinkable water, only free of significant sediment or debris. Clean water storage is best done in flushable tanks (that can be cleaned out periodically) and that are buried below the ground surface, to limit the formation of algae.
We also would like to identify additional emergency-use general-quality water sources that already exist within our district, as well as general-quality sources that could be developed, ideally also in a handful of different locations throughout the district.
General-quality water sources can be ponds, portable pools, etc., that can be drafted from or if large enough, used for bucket drops. We have several lower-valley sources already; having several others higher up would give us a greater advantage in a fire emergency.
Depending on the particular circumstances, we may be able to assist with funding for new water sources for the fire district's emergency use with a portion of grant money.
If you would be willing to host a clean or other type of water source on your property within our district for fire district emergency use, please contact either our Fire Chief, Steve Avgeris, or CRFD Board member Teri Thomas, to discuss details.
"If you fly, we can't."
Tues. August 9th: ODF issued a Public Service Announcement news release regarding the use of UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems), also known as drones, within proximity of firefighting operations:
"However, aircraft cannot be used to fight fire if UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems), more commonly known as drones, are detected above or within a 5-mile radius of a wildfire. Both UAS and firefighting aircraft fly at low altitudes creating the potential for a mid-air collision which can injure or kill firefighters in the sky, crews on the ground, and the neighboring public.
"This dangerous situation is why we ground all aircraft until UAS are removed from a wildfire. While aircraft is suspended, wildfires have the capacity to grow larger threatening more lives and property.
"Please join the Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest Oregon District in sharing our message: ‘If you fly, we can't!’ Together, we can keep everyone in the air and on the ground safe allowing us to attack and suppress wildfires faster than if we worked alone.
"Below is the link to our PSA and our Facebook page where the message is currently posted. Please share it on all platforms so that we may educate the public on keeping drones away from wildfires."
For further information, see:
Cal Fire - "If You Fly, We Can't" - Fire Safety Education/Communications:
National Interagency Fire Center - Public Information Office
Drones in the news:
"Brian Ballou, a fire prevention specialist with the Oregon Department of Forestry, said the agency is asking drone pilots not to launch their aircraft within five miles of a visible smoke plume. // 'If we see any of these going up, we have to shut down all air operations'. . ."
Legalities have changed with the new FAA rules in 2016:
"Man suspected of flying drone over Trailhead Fire arrested," The Sacramento Bee, Sacramento, CA., July 15, 2016 (http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/crime/article90002152.html); an introductory excerpt follows:
[A similar report was also published in The Mail Tribune, Medford,
OR., Sun. July 17, 2016, p. 1A, left sidebar under "West,"
as "Man arrested for flying drone over fire." According
to the Mail Tribune's report, [CA State fire spokesman Daniel] Berlant
says there have been dozens of similar drone incursions in fire areas
over the past two years but [Eric] Wamser] is the first person arrested
by state fire investigators."
“Before Wildfire Strikes! A Handbook for Homeowners and Communities in Southwest Oregon” is an excellent new (Dec. 2015) guide for helping us all to prepare for and survive wildfire.
Written by Kara Baylog and Max Bennett of Jackson and Josephine County Emergency Management in collaboration with numerous other local agencies, it offers very usable information on topics essential to successful wildfire prevention and survival:
"This is a manual that helps homeowners and neighborhoods prepare their areas and their homes for wildfire. A fire-adapted community is a community located in a fire-prone area that requires little assistance from firefighters during a wildfire. Residents of these communities accept responsibility for living in a high fire-hazard area. They possess the knowledge and skills to prepare their homes and property to survive wildfire; evacuate early, safely and effectively; and survive, if trapped by wildfire." [Quote from the OSU Extension Service's website.]
We encourage you to take
advantage of this informational resource in your planning and activities
as you prepare for fire season by renewing and/or expanding your fuel
breaks and reducing fuel loads around your home this spring.
FYI: Live Fire Training - 9:30 am Thurs. June 23rd in Central Point:
"Fire crews from the Oregon Department of Forestry and Fire District 3 will participate in Live Fire Training on Thursday, June 23rd. The training will be at the intersection of Truax and Newland roads, Central Point. This type of training allows firefighting crews to closely mimic a brush fire in a controlled environment that the fire training staff monitors. Firefighters will work on mobile attack, pump-and-roll tactics, burnout operations, and fire ground communications to refresh skills needed for the upcoming fire season..." Full media advisory release.
Citizen Fire Academy began June 1st,
This program, offered through the Southern Oregon Research & Extension Center, is for anyone interested to become better prepared for wildfire, and to be able to help others in the community become better prepared in turn. Kara Baylog, SOREC's OSU Program Assistant [for] Forestry and Natural Resources, says:
View/download the Citizen Fire Academy brochure to learn more and to register. You can also register directly at: https://secure.oregonstate.edu/osuext/register/1014. [Registration [was] required by May 20th. Registration is closed for this year.]
For further information or if you have questions, you can call Kara Baylog at 541-776-7371 or email her from the link on the Citizen Fire Academy brochure (p. 2, left side).
"Creating fire-adapted communities through Education and Volunteer Service."
April 30th, 2016: National PrepareAthon Day; May 1 through May 7: Wildfire Awareness Week and lead-up to the NFPA’s national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on Sat. May 7th, 2016 :
"Join individuals and groups of all ages on May 7, and participate in national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day activities that will make your community safer from the impacts of future and past wildfires. [ . . .]
"Your actions will contribute to increasing the safety of both residents and wildland firefighters. Commit a couple of hours or an entire day to helping your community and accomplish something great!"
"The 125 recipients of a $500 project funding award were selected March 1; recipients will utilize the money to complete a risk reduction, post-fire or preparedness activity/event on May 7. The monetary awards were sponsored by State Farm, a co-sponsor of the third annual nationwide campaign."
The 2016 Wildfire Community Preparedness Day campaign is co-sponsored and supported by the NFPA and State Farm.
Learn more online at:
For project ideas (and safety tips), see under the paragraph heading "How Do I Start?" (near the top, under the banner).
For social media, use: #WildfirePrepDay.
Leading up to and following the NFPA's Wildfire Preparedness Day on May 7th [was] a series of additional highlighted events sponsored by FEMA:
April 10 – 16: Flood Awareness Week
April 17 – 23: Tornado Awareness Week
April 24 – 30: Lead up to National PrepareAthon! Day
April 30th (Sat.) - National PrepareAthon Day - Learn how to prepare for emergencies!
May 1 – 7: Wildfire Awareness Week and lead up to NFPA’s national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day (May 7)
May 15 – 21: Hurricane Awareness Week
May 22 – 28: Extreme Heat Week
Will you be doing any landscaping on your property this spring?
Another OSU Extension brochure of interest is "A Land Manager's Guide for Creating Fire-Resistant Forests," also available online.
Brochures are also available at Jackson County's OSU partnership office, the Southern Oregon Research & Extension Center (SOREC), at 569 Hanley Road, Central Point OR 97503; Phone: (541) 776-7371 Fax: (541) 773-7373; Office Hours: Monday-Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm.
FYI: IS IT A PRESCRIBED BURN, A CONTROLLED SLASH BURN, OR A FIRE?
Specific information on prescribed burns within our district will normally always be posted here on our website as soon as we receive notice.
We are notified ahead of any prescribed (ODF-approved) burning, even though there is often not a lot of warning, as approval from the ODF depends upon the latest weather and other local conditions.
If we have not posted a prescribed burn notice on this page (at the top) and you're unsure if you're seeing a controlled slash burn, call us - it's far better to err on the side of caution.
If a burn cannot be determined to be a controlled burn, or for slash burns that may have gone out of control, don't take a chance - just call 9-1-1.
Note: We don't require burning permits when slash burning is allowed (only before and after fire season), but everyone conducting any outdoor burning is urged to let us know ahead of such activities, to avoid false alarms and as a general safety precaution.
(Info on previous prescribed burns conducted by Lomakatsi is available below.)
LOCAL ROAD SAFETY: Speeding on Colestin Road is both illegal and highly dangerous. PLEASE OBSERVE POSTED SPEED LIMITS AND SLOW DOWN AROUND BLIND CURVES OR DIPS (LOW SECTIONS).
Also, DRIVE ONLY ON THE RIGHT SIDE (LANE) OF THE ROAD - NOT IN THE CENTER.
This warning is in response to some near-misses in recent months: we don't want to be responding to serious medical incidents that can be avoided. Please DRIVE SAFELY. Thank you.
ALERT: Many trees weakened by drought stress over the past two years may be vulnerable to toppling unexpectedly due to saturated soils, winds, and/or heavy snow loads.
If you are aware of leaning or weakened trees near your residence or driveway that may be a safety hazard, have a professional deal with them properly. (If you aren't able to locate someone, call us and we will try to assist you to find someone qualified.)
If you see a problem near or on a public roadway, please report it to local authorities (or provide us with the necessary information and we will forward it to the proper authorities).
RECENT LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES:
LIVING ON YOUR LAND (LOYL) CONFERENCE: Saturday, April 16, 2016
"On Saturday, April 16, The Land Steward Program of Oregon State University Extension Service will present a one-day conference on the beautiful campus grounds at The Redwood Campus of Rogue Community College in Grants Pass.
"This conference is for people who own land or who are thinking about owning land in Southern Oregon.
"You will be able to choose 4 classes from 20 offerings. Presenters with experience in forest health, building better soil techniques, living in a fire-prone environment, beekeeping techniques, water storage, native-American land steward techniques, urban homesteading, botany and birding classes will be conducting the classes...
Classes run from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm and are offered in 4 time blocks (2 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon) with an hour break for lunch.
"The cost of the “Living on Your Land” Conference is $50, which includes coffee and snack breaks. A fabulous lunch is available for an additional $10. The registration deadline [was] Friday, April 8..." Classes fill quickly so early registration is advised.
To view/download the conference brochure with full information and course listings, visit: http://extension.oregonstate.edu/sorec/forestry and http://extension.oregonstate.edu/sorec/land-steward-program.
This event, presented by the Jackson County Office of the OSU Extension and FREE to the public, was held at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center at 569 Hanley Road in Central Point (in the Auditorium building).
"Taking care of your forest land through reduction of fuels, habitat restoration projects, and perhaps even a timber sale is a great idea. But for most projects to be done out in your forest, there needs to be a way to bring out equipment; from personal vehicles to chippers and log trucks.
"Well maintained roads not only help you finish the project work you want to do on your property, they can also help suppression efforts when wildfire comes. Wide, cleared roads with good ingress and egress can prove invaluable for fire fighters needing to access remote locations and stop the spread of fire.
"Join us for a discussion on good forest infrastructure, and what is needed to mitigate the impacts of entry while maximizing the benefits to access from the perspective of forest management and fire protection.
"Steve Bowers is the OSU Extension Specialist in Forest Harvesting under the College of Forestry: Forest Engineering, Resources & Management. His extensive work include resources on managing woodland roads and timber harvesting.
"Matt Hilliker is the Wildland Coordinator for the Jackson County Fire District #5 and runs the Wildfire Training and Certification program and Fire-Adapted Communities program and is a wildfire instructor at Rogue Community college. He has 10 years of experience with the Oregon Department of Forestry as a Crew Captain, Engine Captain and Fire/Fuels Mitigation Specialist."
FYI: Want to know what's going on in the district? The latest available Board minutes are always posted on our Board Minutes page.
We have not had back-up support from the Hornbrook Volunteer Fire Department, our next-closest fire agency, since early in 2014; however, this may soon change, following the recent Nov. 3rd special election for Hornbrook's board of directors.
UPDATE: A TV news story on Sun. Nov. 15th reported that with the newly elected board, volunteer firefighters will be returning to service in the department sometime within the next week. Details will follow here as soon as we are able to learn them.
The backstory (all listed articles published by the Siskiyou Daily News (Yreka, CA), posted online):
"Supes set election to reinstate Hornbrook fire board," Wed., Aug. 5, 2015: "After nearly 16 months without a fire department, the Siskiyou County Board Of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to call a special election for board members for Hornbrook’s fire protection district. [. . .] "Controversy within the Hornbrook Fire Department began on Feb. 27, when the entire department quit. [. . .] "The election will be held November 3, 2015..."
The Siskiyou Rail Line is back in operation as of November 10th, 2015:
According to the recent news report, "Freight service over Siskiyou Pass starts today," (Mail Tribune online, Tues. Nov. 10, 2015): "The Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad has begun sending freight trains over the entire 296-mile short line between Eugene and Weed after spending $13 million for the Siskiyou Summit Railroad Revitalization project. The resumption of train traffic on the Siskiyou Line south of Ashland means veneer and other wood products from the region can be shipped by rail. CORP plans to send about 12 freight trains over the tracks each day."
Previously, ODOT's Moving Ahead publication on Sept. 25th, 2015 (included with the 9/25/15 Mail Tribune), stated that, "Major repairs to the Siskiyou Rail Line are on schedule so that the line is expected to reopen by mid-November. // "Freight service on the historic line, which first opened in December 1887 and runs 95 miles from Ashland to Weed [CA], stopped in 2008. // "The Siskiyou Summit Railroad Revitalization project is repairing and revitalizing a 65-mile section of the 296-mile stretch of the short line railroad, including rail, tunnels, ties and bridges as well as upgrading its freight capacity to handle the 286,000-pound industry standard for rail cars." The line, when re-opened, will provide service five days a week between Weed, CA., and Medford, OR., with one train in each direction running on those days; each train will have 12 to 14 cars.
While the expanded shipping opportunities for regional companies with the re-opening of the rail line are great, we are still concerned by the rail's transit through our valley as a source of potential fire sparks, as this has been a very significant issue in the past. While we hope that recently completed repairs to the line will have alleviated most, if not all, of the sources of potential fire sparking along the tracks, we will be monitoring the trains once the line re-opens as we previously have, particularly during fire season.
For more information, see "Reopening Siskiyou Rail Line," by Brad Hicks, ODOT, Moving Ahead, September, 2015, and "Siskiyou Rail Line Repair - November reopening," ODOT, Moving Ahead, September, 2015.
Are you interested in becoming a weather spotter?
The National Weather Service recently invited weather watchers to a
FREE severe weather spotter training program. The spotter class was
held Thursday, October 8th, 2015, between 6 and 8
pm at the Carnegie Library, 413 West Main Street, Medford.
If you are interested in a future class, contact the National Weather Service in Medford. For details on the recent class, see the flyer. [Information is from Ryan Sandler of the National Weather Service in Medford.]
SHAKEOUT OREGON last took place on Thurs., October 15th, 2015; the Oregon Office of Emergency Management states that "ShakeOut participants included businesses, schools, local, state, and federal government organizations, and many others. The worldwide drill is conducted to practice earthquake safety and promote emergency preparedness." According to an OOEM news release, "Approximately 540,000 Oregonians participated in this year's Great Oregon ShakeOut." Learn more.
Fire Season and Defensible Space:
Fire officials at all levels are expecting this fire season to become a very challenging, costly, and potentially devastating one.
A news report carried in the Mail Tribune, Thurs. June 18, 2015, pg. A2,, "Southern Oregon is drying out early," by Ian Campbell, underscores the situation (an original version of this article by Ian Campbell was published in the Roseburg News-Review as "Oregon's drought to lead to extensive and expensive fire season):
Temperatures have been extreme for extended periods, with the month of June being the hottest June on record. (See the Mail Tribune 6/28/15 (Sun.) article, "Week's temperatures forecast to peak at 111 on Thursday.")
A later news story summarizes the above reports: FIRE POTENTIAL IN THE WEST, 2015: "Dry Days Bring Ferocious Start to Fire Season: Officials are warning about the potential for more catastrophe in the months ahead, as drought, heat and climate change leave the landscape ever thirstier," a frontpage article in The New York Times, August 1st, 2015, available online at: http://nyti.ms/1LX8gcm.
Lightning, always the wild card, is a very serious concern in this setting. In addition, it strikes the ground more often in drier years, increasing the potential for new fires.
To minimize your wildfire risk, we urge you to create or renew fuel breaks (cleared areas, or continuous perimeters without any flammable fuels) to reduce potential fuel loads around your home and other structures. This is essential to making your home and property more defensible.
Prioritize by eliminating fuels in a primary, secondary, and third zone outward from your home: mow down tall weeds, which dry out sooner and become flash fuels; take out any dead trees and shrubs; remove leaves, needles and other debris from roofs and around structures; and remove any ladder fuels (branches or other potential fuels that lower toward the ground) that fire can use to climb. Relocate wood piles to at least 30 feet away from structures. Relocate items stored under decks and porches, and screen or box in areas under decks and porches with wire screening no larger than 1/8" mesh to help keep embers out during a fire.
FEMA's How to Prepare for a Wildfire summarizes all of the essential angles;
WildfirePrepDay.org (NFPA - Video & more) - the May 2nd, 2015, National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day announcement for more info & links;
Our Wildland Fire Prevention: Fuel Breaks & Other Tips page. Call us at 541-488-1768 with any questions.
As always, the CRFD encourages our residents to engage in wildfire fuel-thinning projects when and where possible, and in general, to establish and maintain fuel breaks around homes and other structures.
See our Wildland Fire Prevention page as well as reviewing information on some possible fuel-thinning assistance sources (below on this page):
The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, run out of the Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife Service Office.
Grants and other funding assistance for fuel-thinning projects may also be available through the sources listed here.
It is instructive to remember that the 1981 Colestin Fire occurred in fire season conditions very similar to what we appear to be facing now.
The winter of 1980-81 was one of only four over the past 35 years on record as "years with low snowpack," and one of the two years out of the same four low-snowpack years when "dry conditions persisted through the winter," resulting in "extreme" fire danger conditions earlier than usual that fire season.*
Sparks from young children playing with matches in the yard of a home along Colestin Road near what was then the historic Colestin Stage Stop Hotel, owned by the Avgeris family, ignited the underbrush and rapidly involved the tinder-dry forest.
Driven by highly erratic, shifting winds that afternoon through the steep, rugged terrain, the fire grew to hundreds of acres within a mere handful of hours.
Firefighting efforts by the five fire agencies that responded from outside of the area assisted by the CCC and two other hot-shot crews were severely challenged by the fire's crazy path as it changed directions numerous times, at one point almost reaching Mt. Ashland Road.
Ultimately, while no lives were lost and only three minor structures were consumed, over 540 acres burned (some accounts say over 700 acres), including two million board feet of timber; damage to the local watershed was also extensive. Altogether, the Colestin Fire took more than 700 firefighters and three days to contain; firefighting costs topped $1 million.
At the same time that season, at temperatures of over 100 degrees in some areas and also in bone-dry conditions, a dozen other major fires burned an estimated total of 47,000 acres in four western states; later that same week alone, new lightning-caused fires scorched approximately 20,000 more acres across Oregon.
The one major difference between 1981 and the present is the existence of a local fire agency with trained local firefighters and local firefighting resources and the fire safety consciousness and prevention measures of our community and residents.
This may be a fire season when these qualities are not only more important than ever, but a year when earlier, more extreme conditions leave us no other choice: either we must be pro-active, or we may have to pay the price, however high, for not doing all that we are each able to do ahead of time.
For more information and related articles on the 2015 fire season outlook, see our 2015 Fire Season Chronology, below ODF's sequenced fire season bulletins.
Community Emergency Preparedness Event - After-Notes
A big thank you to all who attended our Community Emergency Preparedness Presentation earlier this month (on Sat. May 2nd, 10 am - 12 pm at the Hilt Community Church).
We also extend a huge thanks to Sara Rubrecht, Senior Manager of the Jackson County Office of Emergency Management, and her husband, also an OEM member, for coming out to our community and presenting this timely event.
Sara did a great job covering the universe of emergency management in less than 2 hours, ending with a brief Q & A opportunity. For more details, see our Emergency Preparedness page.
October 11th, 2015, was the 92nd anniversary of the 1923 D'Autremont brothers train hold-up - also known as "the last great western train robbery" - as the Southern Pacific reached the Siskiyou Summit at Tunnel 13, where the train ran at its slowest on its journey over the Siskiyou mountains.
"Murder on the Southern Pacific - An Oregon Experience" re-aired on SOPTV's "Oregon Experience" on Wed. October 14th, 2015, at 2:00 am; this was a shortened, half-hour version of the original 1-hour program that first aired on Mon. June 1st and Thurs., June 4th, 2015.
This October 14th, "Murder on the Southern Pacific" was followed at 2:30 am by a half-hour version of "State of Jefferson: An Oregon Experience."
For the video preview of "Murder on the Southern Pacific," more info and to view the program online, see SOPTV's program link.
you missed "Big Burn: American Experience"
(1 hr) on SOPTV (KSYS) on Tues. Feb. 3rd,
or the repeat on Thurs., Feb. 5th, 2015, you can still see it online
Of interest: "Woodland owners have much to offer," forestry consultant and contractor Marty Main's Guest Opinion in the Thurs., Jan. 29th, 2015, Mail Tribune: "Today, we are confronted with increasing amounts of high-severity fire with negative effects... [. . .] ...if fire historically visited most forest sites every 5-20 years, as current research suggests, and the change toward more large, severe fires has been the result of decisions we as a society have made (e.g., put out all the fires while creating more flammable forests), then we can, once again, choose another path. Our money and efforts are better spent supporting management activities designed to reduce fire severity before wildfire visits our forests than after it has occurred..." To learn more about creating a less fire-prone landscape through a diversified strategy to forest/woodland management, see Fire Protection (under Info & Resources) at the Jackson-Josephine Small Woodlands Association website.
Fire Service Appreciation Day 2015: According to The Communique, Annual Fire Service Appreciation Day is held in late January every year. This year, it is being held on Tuesday, January 27th.
In keeping with passage of HJR 25, events are held across the state to recognize and honor the fire service. HJR 25 'encourages all citizens of Oregon to recognize and honor our fire service members for their efforts to keep our citizens safe from the ravages of fire.' Communities across the state have "an opportunity to host a variety of events recognizing members of their local fire departments and districts for their dedication, commitment and sacrifice."
This year, according to the Oregon State Fire Marshal's office, "State Fire Marshal Jim Walker is encouraging communities across the state to show appreciation to everyone involved in the fire service for their dedication and commitment to helping others. Oregon follows the national trend with approximately 70% of firefighters in the state performing their duties as volunteers. Fire Service Appreciation Day is an opportunity for everyone to say thanks to volunteer and full-time firefighters alike for their time, talent, and sacrifice."
ODF FREE/NO OBLIGATION PROPERTY ASSESSMENT FOR WILDLAND FIRE SAFETY & Fire Hazard Fuel Reduction Grants:
The Oregon Dept. of Forestry announced on Jan. 7th, 2015, that it is offering fire hazard fuel reduction grants to eligible residents in Southwest Jackson County. While the focus for these grants is on properties in the Applegate and Bear Creek areas in the Rogue Valley, the ODF also states that:
" If landowners outside of the grant areas are interested in having a free/no obligation property assessment with regard to wildland fire safety, they are also encouraged to call (541) 664-3328." [. . .]
"For more information about the fuel-reduction grant program, and to schedule a free on-site fire risk assessment, call Derick Price at ODF’s Medford office, (541) 664-3328."
View ODF's Jan. 7, 2015, news release, "FIRE HAZARD FUEL REDUCTION GRANTS AVAILABLE TO RESIDENTS OF SOUTHWEST JACKSON COUNTY" (pdf).
Ongoing FREE 10-MINUTE HANDS-ONLY CPR TRAINING: If you missed this opportunity to get trained in Hands-Only CPR at one of our previous events, you still can. Learn more.
FYI: The Colestin/Hilt Emergency Preparedness Plan Leadership Group held its first meeting on Sat., January 18th, 2014. Our newly launched Emergency Preparedness Plan Project is in recognition of the increasing need to be able to effectively respond to significant emergency events here in our valley, and to provide help and leadership through the District to our residents. Learn more about our Emergency Preparedness Plan Project on our new page dedicated to developing our emergency preparedness resources.
The Lomakatsi Restoration Project - Prescribed Fire Controlled Burns and woodland fuel load reduction in the Colestin valley:
The Lomakatsi Restoration Project notified us of two APPROVED PRESCRIBED BURNING projects during the fall of 2015. One prescribed burn took place on Friday, Oct. 23rd, 2015, on a private property near Nepal Rd. in the middle of the Colestin valley; a second prescribed burn was scheduled for before Nov. 25th on another private property here in the Colestin area. See the posted flyer announcing these prescribed burns. Information on prescribed burning is also available on Lomakatsi's website at: http://www.lomakatsi.org.
Previously in 2015, the Lomakatsi Restoration Project conducted low-intensity prescribed burning in our valley on Wednesday, Feb. 18th, 2015, and Thursday, Feb. 19th. The burning of brush piles occurred on private property along Goat Ranch Road in the lower valley, by pre-arrangement with the owner. This prescribed burn was not related to another burn a few days earlier done by a private landowner "located between Colestin Road and I-5."
Lomakatsi also conducted a prescribed burn on Friday, January 30th, 2015, in the Colestin valley, on a private property near Goat Ranch Road, after receiving clearance from the ODF. Adjacent landowners were notified ahead of that date. See Lomakatsi's announcement flyer.
Low-intensity prescribed fire controlled burns are by arrangement with participating residents as part of a program to reduce woodland fuel loads through density thinning and slash treatments and to restore oak habitat.
Prescribed fire controlled burns were also done during the fall of 2013 through March, 2014 by Greyback Forestry, Inc., contracted by the Lomakatsi Restoration Project in partnership with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on private lands within our district. For details, see Lomakatsi's site under "News & Events" and the link to Colestin area work with photos at lomakatsi.org/prescribed-fire-colestin-11-1-13/; also see Lomakatsi's flyer, "Colestin Valley Prescribed Hand Pile Burn Notification, Potential Operation Dates: November 2013 through March 2014" (pdf format), and Lomakatsi's Nov. 2013 flyer, "Colestin Valley Prescribed Fire Notification," Nov. 1 - 18, 2013, (jpg image; allow approx. 30 seconds to load).
For questions or more information about about prescribed burning projects or about participating in Lomakatsi's fuel reduction program, see www.lomakatsi.org or contact them at email@example.com or 541-488-0208.
Oak Restoration - Free Field Day tour in the Colestin valley - Sat. June 27th, 2015
Lomakatsi invited those interested to join in on an Oak Woodland Restoration Field Day tour on Saturday, June 27th, 2015, from 9am to 2pm.
This free event was hosted by the Klamath Siskiyou Oak Network (KSON), a group composed of local state and federal agencies, Native American tribes, private citizens, and non-governmental organizations (including Lomakatsi) that provide opportunities for practitioners and community members to engage on issues affecting threatened oak habitats in order to promote oak conservation and restoration.
During the tour, participants visited several privately owned oak woodland sites in the Colestin valley to look at completed oak restoration treatments and discuss conservation efforts taking place in the local region.
For more information, see the flyer, contact KSON Coordinator Kate Halstead at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-201-0866 ext. 7#, or visit http://www.klamathbird.org/the-klamath-call-note/announce/press/2852. Information is also available on Lomakatsi's website at www.lomakatsi.org.
HELP WITH FUEL REDUCTION
Planned Community Wildfire Meetings are part of countywide wildfire protection. Discussion topics include information you need to live safely in wildfire country, the fire planning process, how your neighborhood can be more wildfire safe, and meeting your local fire service providers. Representatives from local Jackson County Fire Districts, Oregon Department of Forestry, Rogue River/Siskiyou National Forest, and Medford BLM attend these meetings.
For information about any currently planned community meetings, contact:
Randy Iverson, Fire Chief Jackson County Fire District #3 (541) 826-7100
Brian Ballou, Fire Prevention Specialist, Oregon Dept. of Forestry (541) 664-3328
Neil Benson, Jackson County Integrated Fire Plan (541) 482-4682
Chris Chambers, Wildfire Fuels Reduction Coordinator, Ashland Fire & Rescue (541) 552-206
ODF's September, 2005, News bulletin as a pdf file.
(This requires Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher, FREE if you need to download it.)
The WEST WIDE ENERGY CORRIDOR DPEIS [Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement]:
UPDATE: In August, 2008, the BLM's Medford district office published a "Record of Decision and Resource Management Plan" for the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument which includes information indicating that the energy corridor under discussion has been sited near the Klamath area and to the east of Ashland instead of running through our valley. Copies of this document are available from the BLM at its Medford District Office, 3040 Biddle Rd., Medford, OR., 97504.
The following concerns CRFD's position on the federal West-wide Energy Corridor DPEIS (Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement), concerning the 3,500-foot wide power corridor that could have run directly through our district. The public comment period on the draft plans ended on February 14th, 2008.
At the January, 2008, Board meeting, Lisa [Buttrey] provided the Board with background information and maps, pointed out issues of concern, and suggested talking points about this project.
The law allowing for the creation of this project was passed in 2005; the plan itself was released in mid-November of 2007. The plan is to have a 2/3rds-mile-wide pipeline/power-line corridor in the Valley. A number of these corridors are proposed throughout the west to handle the power sources (propane, gas, etc.) that is needed to keep up with increasing fuel needs in the country.
After discussion at the January meeting, the Board took the position that this area is not the best to locate this project. Not only are there environmental and geological concerns, but also the financial costs of going through the Siskiyou Mountains would be astronomical. Areas of eastern Oregon, which are flat and uninhabited, would be a far better place to locate the project.
The Board passed a motion directing the fire district, as the local agency, to send a letter outlining these concerns, as the project is currently proposed. Peggy Moore, as the Board Chair, was appointed to write the letter on behalf of the District.
The CRFD's letter in response to the West Wide Energy Corridor DPEIS follows:
January 20, 2008
West-wide Energy Corridor D[P]EIS
9700 S Cass Avenue – Bldg 900, Mail Stop 4
Argonne, IL 60439
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At our January 18th Board of Directors meeting, we passed a unanimous motion to provide written comments on the proposed Corridor (#4-247) through the Siskiyou Crest from Oregon into California. As the fire protection agency that is responsible for this area (for both fire and emergency medical) we STRONGLY oppose locating the corridor in this area.
There are a variety of reasons for our concerns but we believe the environmental, geological and financial arguments are the most salient and deserve your focused attention.
. The Colestin Valley and Siskiyou Pass area are well known as unstable in terms of their geology. Siskiyou literally means “moving mountain”. Slumps, shifts and collapses are fairly frequent in the area. As a result of one of these natural occurrences the Colestin Valley must now employ a receiver to rebroadcast telephone signals because the cable was rendered unusable by earth movement along its route.
. Interstate 5 is a vital transportation highway from Mexico to Alaska. Many of the trucks using this route on a daily basis carry toxic wastes, including nuclear waste. In addition, essential supplies of all kinds are hauled on this route day and night. Accidents happen frequently, sometimes closing the highway or rending one lane or another impassable.
. This particular stretch along Interste 5 (proposed corridor #4-247) is the longest stretch of 6% grade on the interstate system. Along with instability and bottleneck problems, the expense of putting lines across the Siskiyou Pass would be enormous. There are certainly locations in the state of Oregon that are flat, have far less interstate traffic and reside in more geologically stable environments. Areas in sparsely populated Eastern Oregon might be a consideration.
. The proposal, as we understand it, will make the Klamath River dam substation a destination for the proposed energy corridor. In doing so, you are targeting a substation connected to a dam that may soon be dismantled when court-ordered priority concerns for Klamath River salmon prevent re-licensing of Klamath River dams.
. The energy corridor segment, which is proposed for California’s Jenny Creek Falls, is a Redding BLM area of critical environmental concern.
We appreciate that when notified by many concerned citizens you moved the original 3,500 foot energy corridor out of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, but we still believe that for the reasons stated above, putting it in this region at all is a serious mistake.
We are a small, entirely volunteer fire district that, for 25 years, has provided needed fire and emergency medical services to the residents of our community. We simply do not have the resources, nor are more likely to appear, to support a crisis occasioned by a “mega” corridor .The location of our area makes it difficult (and at times impossible) for outside agencies to respond in a timely fashion.
We believe, once these facts are reviewed and the costs of locating the corridor in this area thoroughly researched that [the desirability of] finding a more geologically friendly, more cost effective and less populated traffic area will become clear.
We would be happy to provide further information to you on this matter. Thank you for your attention to our concerns and we hope that you will find a more hospitable location for this project.
Peggy A. Moore
Colestin Rural Fire District
Board of Directors
c. Chief Avgeris
The comment period ended February 14th, 2008. Thank you to all those of you who submitted your comments to the West-wide Energy Corridor D[P]EIS planners.
For further information, see the West Side Energy Corridor website:
For a more complete, easy-to-understand summary of the plan as it may affect us locally, together with issues to consider, maps, and further information, see the (PDF-format) article "West-wide Energy Corridors Routes Planned," published in the Jan.-Feb. 2008 issue of The Colestin Valley Buzz, and re-published here with publisher Lisa Buttrey's permission.
In June, 2005, the Fire Plan Committee (John Ames, Elaine Shanafelt, and Lisa Buttrey) completed and released the Colestin-Hilt Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) that was in the works for over a year. In addition to a public presentation of the main points of the plan by Committee Chair and Coordinator Lisa Buttrey at the community barbeque on Saturday, June 18th, the plan is now available in detail here on our site, through our Colestin-Hilt Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) page.
"The completed plan," according to Lisa Buttrey, "has an Intro section, a Description section, a brief 'Risks' section, and finally the meat of the document in the last section, 'The Action Plan,' followed by the 'Appendices.' "The Action Plan gives detailed ideas for things to do and calls for volunteers to do them. [We] hope to get a few 'Action' items assigned to willing takers (from outside the fire department proper!)."
The Plan has an enormous wealth of information in it, and reflects a tremendous amount of time, extensive research, many meetings with other fire agency and county officials, and hard work. The result is a document that provides a working plan of action for our community to pro-actively achieve a much better level of fire prevention and protection and disaster preparedness than we have ever known. We are also now in compliance, ahead of schedule, and coordinated with the County's new regional fire plan. Check out the Plan on our CWPP page.
Also of interest are some very interesting articles that were edited out of the final CWPP: "Geology of the Districts," a summary by local resident Russell Juncal, and according to Lisa, "very readable for all residents." The second is "Fire Regimes, Fire History and Forest Conditions in the Klamath-Siskiyou Region: An Overview and Synthesis of Knowledge, by Evan J. Frost and Rob Sweeney. Lisa states that this is "a scientific paper, quite lengthy at 59 pages, but full of info about fire history, fire regimes, suppression history, logging impact on fire, etc." A third article that was not considered part of the official plan but that is also relevant is a Homeowner's Safety Checklist from the Fire Safe Council. All of these articles are now available through our CWPP page as well.
Josephine County's Plan, by comparison: On January 18, 2006, the Oregon Dept. of Forestry announced in a press release that Josephine County's Integrated Fire Plan has been awarded statewide recognition: "Josephine County was recently chosen to receive the 2005 Partners for Disaster Resistance and Resilience Outstanding Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan. Josephine County was recognized for the collaborative planning effort that resulted in the Josephine County Integrated Fire Plan..." To learn more about how our neighboring county has prepared a fire plan that has now been recognized throughout the state of Oregon, read the full text of ODF's Josephine County Integrated Fire Plan press release (Jan. 18, 2006).
The "New & Improved Emergency Phone Tree" and Road Signage are two other developments related to our Community Wildfire Protection Plan. Read more.
We need to continue to be aware of cougars near our homes. For updated details on local cougar attacks, information on cougar behavior, and safety tips for cougar encounters, see our community page.
SPECIAL NOTE: Dead deer have been found in our area, due to a virus disease. If you find one, the OR. Dept. of Fish & Wildlife requests that you report it to Steve Neimela at (541) 826-8774 x239. See our community forum page for details.