Wildfire season has descended upon Central Oregon with a vengeance. The season started earlier than usual – and the occurrences/incidents remain challenging. Approximately 9,400 firefighters were battling the blazes that have burned an estimated 760 square miles in Oregon.
Oregon National Guard – Heli Base – Madras, Oregon
The Oregon National Guard has established a Heli fire suppression base at the Madras Airport – targeting the Logging Unit fires. Staff Sergeant Jason Van Mourik (Salem - Oregon Military Department Public Affairs) and Lieutenant Frey (Pendleton) of the Oregon National Guard are part of the Madras based Oregon National Guard Unit deployed to add to the fire suppression resources .
The Oregon National Guard Unit currently deployed at the Heli Base in Madras is comprised of 24 personnel who were called up from the Pendleton, OR and Salem, OR areas as part of the state of emergency declaration by Oregon’s Governor – to deliver additional wildland fire suppression resources to the State’s fire incidents.
Oregon National Guardsmen Frey and SSG Jason Van Mourik stated that their ONG unit currently operates two HH60 Blackhawk helicopters and two CH47 Chinook helicopters out of their Heli Base in Madras, Oregon. The Blackhawks deliver a 450 gallon bucket of fire suppression capabilty while the Chinooks have a capacity of 15,000 gallons each. The helicopters were “dipping” (gathering water”) in Timothy Lake and Blue Lake this past weekend. The bulk of this fire suppression effort is located on lands of The Confederated Tribe of Warm Springs.
Residents andvisitors to Central Oregon/areas in Oregon affected by wildfire smoke should check the Air Quality index for these areas. These readings change daily.
A Red Flag Warning has been issued for Central Oregon for Tuesday July 22nd beginning at 11AM and remain in effect until Wednesday at 5:00PM. A Red Flag Warning also known as a Fire Weather Warning is a forecast warning issued by the United StatesNational Weather Service to inform area firefighting and land management agencies that conditions are ideal for wildland fire ignition, and rapid propagation. Translation: Thunderstorm activity is forecast for the already affected areas.
Fire Status Updates: The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center is, in my opinion, the best resource to get accurate and timely updates in specific, existing fires. Check out the links in the far right-hand column for specific geographical areas and specific updates on incidents under current fire suppression management. of course, pay attention to local news channels and the National Weather Service information for specific areas and forecasts. See also Central Oregon Fire Information.
The Prineville Airport also has a Heli Base set up to handle fires in the Ochoco National Forest. These are private contractors operating numerous types of helicopters with fire suppression capability in this area.
Stay informed and exercise prudent travel judgment. Prepare. Remember the importance of reviewing The Ten Essential Systems – particularly if hiking outdoors.
More of my images regarding wildfires in Central Oregon can be found (CLICK on any of the LINKS) below:
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Stay out of these areas and let the professionals do their work. There is a red flag warning in effect until Friday July 17th 2014 at 11PM for this area. The fires will likely continue to burn for some time – with scattered thunderstorms forecast for Monday and Wednesday next week. Exercise CAUTION and UNCOMMON sense.
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