Last Friday firefighters from Oregon Department of Forestry, US Forest Service, Sisters Camp Sherman Fire District, and Cloverdale Fire District responded to a fire located off of Wilt Road north of Sisters that is owned by Deschutes County. Prior fuel treatments in the area allowed for a successful coordinated multi-agency initial attack response to easily stop the fire at one acre. Due to the condition of the fuels, resources easily contained the fire and began mop-up even as temperatures reached 90 degrees and winds gusted at 10-15 miles per hour.

Approximately ten years ago the property had small Ponderosa Pine, Juniper trees and brush removed, considerably reducing the fire fuels available to burn. Typically the presence of small trees (ladder fuels) and thick underbrush make controlling a fire under hot and dry conditions difficult for fire resources. With the fuels reduction project, today the understory on this particular parcel is composed of small scattered shrubs, bunchgrass and ponderosa pine. Not a single tree torched in the fire area, the fire stayed on the ground and could easily be controlled by firefighters arriving on scene with water and hand tools.

“Conditions are especially dry this fire season even with the wet winter and spring we had this year, increasing the potential for fires to spread quickly,” notes Ed Keith, Deschutes County Forester. “Fuel reduction projects such as this allow for safer and more effective fire suppression,” explains Ed Keith.

“Fires are a natural occurrence here in Central Oregon, so everyone, including Deschutes County, must take responsibility for their property to mitigate the potential losses to themselves and their neighbors, “ adds Ed Keith. “Everyone, from homeowners to firefighters and other community leaders have a role to play in wildfire preparedness and better adapting to wildfire in Deschutes County,” says Ed Keith.

“Fuels treatments on landscapes and defensible space projects greatly reduce the impact that fires will have on the landscape and in neighborhoods adjacent to those landscapes,” says Alison Green, Program Coordinator for Project Wildfire. “Hazardous fuels treatments allow for safe and effective fire suppression and a chance for communities to better understand their roles and responsibilities when living in a fire-prone environment such as central Oregon,” she adds.

The outcome could have been very different if the fire had occurred in the same area but where fuels had not been reduced. This fire is added proof that years of coordinated fuel reduction efforts by County, State, Federal and private landowners in Deschutes County pay dividends in the form of providing a safer environment for firefighters to work in while also providing safety to communities.

For more information on Fire Adapted Communities