Reports of fires:
San Diego photographer Dan Megna's own website, for some stunning
photographic views of California's largest
Through David Clarke, at the College of the Siskiyous, we
received a photo slide show portraying other
views of the devastation throughout the region. This was originally
forwarded to him by OSU biologist Ann Kreager, who writes,
"This is an excellent slide show depicting the California
fires - ...Unbelievable
to view especially for those of us from the area... from a
biologist's perspective, it is wrenching." And it is.
Be prepared. Click
here to open. Left-click
once to advance each photo.
(PC users can also roll the mouse over the lower left corner
for a pop-up menu; select 'Next' to advance each frame.)
And perhaps most
poignant and meaningful of all is a personal report
we received via email from David Clarke's brother, Steve,
who lives in San Diego and witnessed much of the devastation
from the fires firsthand.
In his Nov. 4th
email in which he forwarded Steve's email letter, Dave writes,
"And now for some rawness I thought you both might appreciate.
My brother Steve is a deputy sheriff in east SD county, as
is his wife Laurie. He writes an email maybe once a year and
NEVER this long."
After reading Steve's
email letter, we asked Dave to get Steve's permission to publish
it here on our website. Today, Nov. 5th, Dave responded: "Steve
said yes. I cleaned up the typos and left first names, but
left all content alone. My brother Steve is a deputy sheriff
in east SD County, as is his wife Laurie. He wrote this email
to his siblings. He has given permission to me to allow it
to be distributed and posted on web sites. *Krista and Austin
are Steve's children (18 and 13 years of age), who were with
their mom at her house. *Joe and Paula are Steve's in-laws."
Clarke's email letter.
Reports of fires during 2003:
Oregon crews head to firelines" - Mail Tribune, Wed.,
Oct. 29th, 2003
Firefighter Killed in Calif. Blazes" - Mail Tribune
via San Diego AP wire report, Tues. Oct. 29th, 2003
fire season hangs on tight: Southern
California's blazes highlight the fact that fire danger doesn't
go away just because it's autumn" - Mail Tribune, Tues.
Oct. 28th, 2003 (page 2A)
fall burning program put on hold" - Mail Tribune,
Sun., Oct. 26th, 2003
halt Hilt blaze" - Mail Tribune, Fri. October 24th,
2003 (page 5A)
season is still with us" - Mail Tribune, Wed., Oct.
danger at forefront of concern" - Ashland Daily Tidings,
July 31st, 2003 (Front page) (Abridged
article printed below)
wind fuel Applegate fire" - Mail Tribune, July 31st,
fire reaches 20 acres: some Ashland-area forest roads
are closed, but no buildings are in danger" - Mail Tribune,
July 13th, 2003
of areas burned by fires wait — and hope they're
well prepared this year" - Mail Tribune, July 13th, 2003
spring, heat, lightning fueled 2002 fires" - Mail
Tribune, July 13th, 2003
danger: in a word, it's 'bad'" ("We're
about four weeks ahead of a 'normal summer' ... It's deceptive
in that it looks like we got a good rainfall ... but it really
didn't buy us much with the larger fuels ... In another couple
of weeks, all that grass we have now will be cured out and
we'll be way ahead of where we were a year ago as far as fire
danger...") - Mail Tribune, July
13th, 2003 (Abridged
article printed below)
Services: Fire Calls" (scroll to the bottom - 2 fires)
- Mail Tribune, July 13th, 2003
more coverage of fires and related news, see KGW
Northwest News Channel 8's website, which has current
and seasonal news, fire prevention info, and an extensive
list of related links to further resources, fire photos &
interactive media displays.
The following is
an article by Paul Fattig, originally published in the Sunday,
July 13th, 2003, edition of Medford's The Mail Tribune, pages
Danger: In a word, it's 'bad' "
Schwanke has one word to describe this summer's wildfire threat.
'Bad,' concluded the district forester for the Oregon Department
of Forestry in southwestern Oregon.
35 years of fighting wildfires in Oregon, including the last
eight in Jackson and Josephine counties, Schwanke knows of
what he speaks. He already has seen evidence of potential
this: About 40 acres burned near Merlin in May, a wildfire
destroyed a home near Cave Junction last month and a blaze
near Williams early last week burned some 300 acres and threatened
'We're seeing fires getting bigger earlier this year than
we did at this time last year,' he said. 'We're about four
weeks ahead of a "normal summer" .'
rain has fallen in much of the region since early May, noted
Schwanke, whose department protects U.S. Bureau of Land Management,
state, county and private wildlands.
the rainfall is now above average, thanks to a heavy spring
rain, not much fell early in the year and the mountain snowpack
was well below average, Schwanke said.
'It's deceptive in that it looks like we got a good rainfall,'
he said. 'But it really didn't buy us much with the larger
fuels. It wasn't timed right.'
a result, the fire danger is already as high as this time
last year, he said.
'In another couple of weeks, all that grass we have now will
be cured out and we'll be way ahead of where we were a year
ago as far as fire danger,' he said. 'It doesn't look like
a good fire season. There is a lot of opportunity for a bad
district completed training its usual complement of 100 seasonal
firefighters on Friday, making them available to battle a
the department is still waiting for the Legislature to adopt
a state budget. Because of budget constraints, the district
has no helicopter contract this season, Schwanke said.
private helicopter with a water bucket is currently based
at the ODF district headquarters in Central Point but isn't
under contract, he said.
'We're not paying for it unless we use it,' Schwanke said.
'Of course, if they get a call about a fire elsewhere, they
may take off.'
in the Rogue River and Siskiyou national forests, the U.S.
Forest Service has requested more funding to beef up its fire
crews, according to spokeswoman Mary Marrs.
'We're asking for more money now for additional fire crews
and staffing, including air attack and additional engines,'
she said, noting the request is in preparation for a potentially
active fire season.
amount of additional funding requested was not available Friday.
two forests currently have 25 fire crew members, nine engines
with 19 members, seven prevention patrols, a river fire patrol
and five lookout personnel on staff, Marrs said.
air tanker is currently assigned to the Medford tanker base,
which is now operating as a reload base. But a tanker would
be called in from Klamath Falls or Redmond if needed for a
fire, she said.
agencies keep their fire staffs and equipment close at hand
because of the growing fire danger, officials said.
cited the work by local rural fire districts in conjunction
with the ODF, particularly when it comes to protecting homes.
also noted that many rural homeowners have pitched in to reduce
the threat by cutting grass and thinning the forest and brushlands
near their homes.
'The fires we had last year really brought people's awareness
up,' he said. 'They're doing a lot of things on their own
now to reduce the threat around their homes.'
they still need to be exceedingly careful this summer, he
'We have to do whatever we can this year to eliminate all
possible causes that we can,' he said.
trees as dry as they were last year, coupled with more grass
to provide ladder fuel in many areas, the potential for a
bad fire season looms, he reiterated.
'We have the potential for a just-as-bad-if-not-worse fire
season than last year,' he said."
The following is
the text of an article published on July 31st, 2003 on the
front page of The Daily Tidings newspaper in Ashland, OR.
We are re-printing it here for its educational content in
case it cannot be accessed through The Daily Tidings' online
archives. Its points are well worth bearing in mind.
Fire danger at
forefront of concern
By AMBER FOSSEN
Ashland Daily Tidings
Fire officials are asking city residents to help control sources
of ignition during this extreme fire season.
In early spring,
fire officials urged homeowners to remove brush, limbs and
other fuels in preparation for the fire season. Now, however,
removing burnables creates potential hazards and fire officials
say residents should shift toward controlling ignitable substances.
need for change in perspectives on the part of our citizens
regarding fire danger," Ashland Fire and Rescue Chief
Keith Woodley said. "Now we're in extreme fire danger
so our attention goes to controlling sources of ignition.
Property owner activity such as trying to cut grass or trying
to remove brush is more hazardous than leaving it there."
According to Woodley,
the shift coincides with the weather. His staff changed its
emphasis from removal to prevention on June 1.
currently prohibit the use of chain saws, campfires, vehicles
on unimproved roads and spark emitting equipment to reduce
Woodley said the
main cause of summer fires is human activity.
exception of lightning, 100 percent of fires are caused by
inappropriate human activity," he said.
In August 2002,
AFR responded to a double house fire in the Oak Knoll neighborhood.
The fire - which caused more than $400,000 in damage between
the two homes - was caused by spontaneous heating of vegetation
clippings stored near one of the homes.
Bagging up grass
clippings or other organic yard material could lead to spontaneous
heating if stored in a tight container.
However, it is
possible to maintain landscape without contributing to fire
Lisa Black, recycling
coordinator for Ashland Sanitary and Recycling Service, said
more than 450 Ashland residents take advantage of the Yard
Debris Recycling program, which removes and recycles yard
debris at Dry Creek Landfill in White City.
we brought in over 873 tons (of yard debris)," Black
for disposing of yard waste - if done properly - is composting.
Claudia Law, president
of Oregon Master Gardener Association and master gardener
for Oregon State University Extension service, said it's important
to know what can and cannot be composted.
not have a clear understanding of what's compostable and what's
not," Law said. "Anything non-organic does not belong."
requires a mixture of air, water, and carbon and nitrogen
materials. Law said combustible materials, trash and plastic
should be excluded from the mix.
Law said composts
can become fire hazards if residents let them become too dry.
It's also a good idea to keep composts away from structures
Residents can learn
the right way to compost through free classes provided by
Ashland Sanitary and Recycling Service. The next class is
scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, August 16 at the
Recycling Center on Water Street.
As fire officials
remain on alert, so do some Ashland residents.
For Joan Ballenger,
fire is a major concern.
seeing is people have really forgotten things like checking
around their homes and along fences for dry materials and
flammable brush," Ballenger said.
A Harmony Lane
resident, Ballenger knows the fire danger is real - even for
"We can burn
up here in town," she said. "People have to have
a wake-up call."
and Ashland Community Emergency Response Team volunteer Diane
Schaffer is taking fire prevention seriously by hosting a
wildfire preparedness meeting in her home Sunday.
Schaffer said the
idea to host an informative meeting on how to prepare for
and prevent fires was prompted by a CERT meeting in which
AFR firefighter Rees Jones addressed ways to protect homes
"We were thunderstruck
at how badly prepared our neighborhood is and we're near the
Watershed," Schaffer said.
the meeting, which will be lead by Jones, will help her Timberline
Terrace neighborhood become active in preparing and protecting
their homes. She also said it will be a great way to connect
can do this and the fire department is always delighted to
send someone to come out and talk," she said.
Woodley said it
would be possible for other neighborhoods to host wildfire
education meetings. However, he said it would need to be for
a large gathering and preferably after the fire season.
While it is unsafe
to remove ignitable materials like small diameter trees, there
are some steps area residents can take to protect themselves
and their neighbors, Woodley said.
of yard materials and clearing pine cones and needles off
roofs is essential. Residents should also make sure their
addresses are clearly visible and that driveways remain clear.
"We need at
least 10 feet of clear width but 12 feet is better,"
he said, noting fire engines and other response vehicles need
quick access to effectively fight fires.
Woodley urged residents
to pay attention to fire restrictions. If residents don't
abide by safe fire practices, they could end up with a hefty
agencies are going to recover costs from homeowners if it
is discovered the cause was a blatant disregard for fire safety,"
in learning more on protecting their homes against fire can
pick up "Living With Fire: A Guide for the Homeowner,"
at the AFR station.