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Forest Service Continues OWTFR Prescribed Burning Near Oakridge and Westfir

The Middle Fork Ranger District will be burning north of Westfir in the Oakridge Westfir Thinning and Fuels Reduction (OWTFR) project “Face Thin” unit. This unit is closer to town located along Forest Road 19. Burning conditions are looking good and the Forest Service will have extra firefighters on the ground, but there will likely be some smoke impacts to Oakridge and Westfir. The unit is 108 acres and burning is planned over Thursday, April 29 and Friday, April 30. Forest Road 19 will not be closed, but there may be some delays and increased fire traffic. 


The OWTFR project has been a joint effort over the past decade between the community and Forest Service to reduce fuels and improve wildfire safety around Oakridge and Westfir.  Prescribed burning is a valuable tool to improve forest health and increase resiliency to wildfire. It involves igniting a controlled, low intensity fire to consume undergrowth and post-harvest organic materials under specific conditions of temperature, wind, and humidity. This limits fire behavior and reduces the likelihood of heavy smoke impacting nearby communities. The benefits of treating these fuels include reducing the severity of future wildfires near communities, increasing firefighter safety in initial and extended response, and maintaining overall healthy forests.


“The goal of this burn is to reduce fuels and protect our community from wildfire,” said Jimmer Hunt, Fire Management Officer for the Middle Fork Ranger District. “Following a thinning treatment with a low-intensity underburn is an effective method to reduce fire danger and protect homes from a high-intensity wildfire.”


“We just experienced one of the worst wildfire seasons in decades in Western Oregon,” said District Ranger Molly Juillerat. “This shows how important it is to mitigate fire danger when we can and the need to prepare communities adjacent to forests for the possibility of a large fire close to town.”


In order to protect your health, follow these measures: 


  • Reduce time spent outdoors when smoke is present.

  • Close windows and doors.

  • Use an indoor high-efficiency air filter (HEPA) or electrostatic precipitator in your home to help create one or more rooms with cleaner air to breathe.

  • Set your A/C or heating unit to recycle or recirculate when at home or in your car.

  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water.

  • Reduce other sources of indoor smoke and dust, including: burning cigarettes, candles, gas or propane ranges, wood burning stoves and furnaces, and vacuuming.

  • Reduce the time you engage in vigorous outdoor activity.

  • If you have heart or lung disease or respiratory illnesses such as asthma, follow your health care provider's advice about prevention and treatment of symptoms.

  • Consider maximizing time in air-conditioned homes or buildings during smoky periods or visit public, air-conditioned places such as libraries, community centers, senior centers, restaurants, and retailers for relief from smoke.


Learn more about prescribed burning on our Fire Safety page.

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