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Fuels reduction work keeps Wilt Road fire small


Last Friday, firefighters from the 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 on land 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.

About 10 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, as 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,” noted Ed Keith, Deschutes County forester. “Fuel reduction projects such as this allow for safer and more effective fire suppression.”

“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, ” Keith added.

“Everyone, from homeowners to firefighters and other community leaders, has a role to play in wildfire preparedness and better adapting to wildfire in Deschutes County,” he said.

Project Wildfire Coordinator Alison Green said, “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.”

“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 added.

The outcome could have been very different if the fire had occurred in the same area, but where fuels had not been reduced.

Green said the quick stop on the 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 about Project Wildfire ,visit For more information on Fire Adapted Communities

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