BLM all-female fire camp in Oregon

This year, 25 women attended the two-weekend camp

BLM's all-female fire camp
Students at the BLM’s all-female fire camp in Oregon. Screenshot from the BLM video below.

From the Bureau of Land Management:

Students came from all over the country for this year’s BLM’s all-female wildfire camp in eastern Oregon.

For the class final, the all-female crew of wildfire students dug fire line, rolled hose, and burned slash piles in the eastern Oregon snow.

The live burn exercise was the climax of the second annual Women in Wildland Fire Boot Camp, a BLM recruitment and retention tool that organizers hope will add diversity to the applicant pool for wildfire jobs.

The boot camp is really a paid training opportunity, part classroom and part field work, for women to become certified for federal fire jobs, an industry long dominated by men.

“I think we’re acknowledging we need to add diversity to our workforce,” said Jeff Fedrizzi, the top BLM fire official for Oregon and Washington, “And we’re putting our money where our mouth is.”

Twenty women attended last year and more than half of that first class ended up getting a job in firefighting, said Cassandra Andrews-Fleckenstein, the BLM program manager for the camp. This year, 25 women attended the two-weekend camp, once again coming from across the country. Students slept outside in 10-degree weather, used portable toilets, and wore the classic wildland firefighter uniform of yellow shirt and green pants, just like any other fire camp.

Kathleen Mascarenas, who is studying forestry and fire science at Colorado State University, said she came to the Women in Wildland Fire Boot Camp to get her foot in the door for a future job.

“I really just wanted to get a hands-on experience,” said Mascarenas, as a controlled burn crackled behind her last month. “I thought it would be a great experience to get started and meet some of the women that I would be hopefully working with in the future,” she said.

One of the attendees from Oregon, Kelli Creekmore, said she recently got her emergency medical technician license and is hoping to get a job providing first aid to wildland firefighters.

In addition to the typical fire coursework, students also received special presentations, for example, what it is like to be pregnant during a wildfire pack test, and how to successfully apply via USAJobs.gov.

Since many of the camp attendees are coming in with advanced education and other valuable prerequisites, it is imperative that they become fluent in the federal hiring process, said camp manager Andrews-Fleckenstein.

“They are frustrated because they don’t really know how to get into these fire jobs,” said Andrews-Fleckenstein, listing the main gripe she heard from students at the camp. “I’m finding that this camp is kind of a bridge for them.”

Bob Narus, the fire manager for the BLM’s Vale District, an area that spans more than 5 million acres in eastern Oregon, said simply making more applicants aware that the BLM is an option for firefighting jobs is important.

“I think there’s value in having these women in wildfire camps, so more people can become aware that, ‘Hey, I can go fight fire with the BLM also, not just the Forest Service,’” said Narus.

While camp attendees are compensated for their time, they are not reimbursed for their travel to and from rural eastern Oregon. Last year, one student flew round-trip from Chicago between university midterms to attend the boot camp, said Andrews-Fleckenstein, noting the clear and unique value of the all-female BLM fire camp.

“I think if we had more of them across the country, or offered a couple more, you might get a lot of people coming into it,” she said.


— by Toshio Suzuki, tsuzuki@blm.gov

Smoke affects northwest U.S.

Forecast near surface smoke
Forecast for near surface smoke at 6 p.m. PDT October 24, 2019. NOAA.

Thursday morning there were very few wildfires producing large quantities of smoke, however the Kincade Fire 63 miles north of San Francisco has the potential to become an air quality problem for residents in northern California especially on Friday.

There is a surprising amount of smoke in the Northwest, especially in Idaho, Oregon, and western Montana presumably created by extensive prescribed burning.

fires northwest US Oct 24 2019
The map shows heat from fires detected in the Northwest United States October 24, 2019.

Falling tree causes serious injury to firefighter

On August 6, 2019 a 72-hour report provided information about a serious injury that occurred August 3 on the East Evans Creek Fire about 18 air miles north of Medford, Oregon:


“On August 3, 2019, at approximately 0230 (PST), a snag fell and hit a member of a 20 person hand crew that was building direct handline on the East Evans Creek Fire during initial attack. The firefighter struck by the snag sustained serious injuries to the head and facial regions.

“The hand crew, along with adjacent fireline resources, initiated an emergency extraction of the injured firefigther via SKED stretcher from the tree strike site on the fireline to a pickup truck, and then to a staged ambulance that was already enroute. From there, the injured firefighter was transferred to a Lifeflight helicopter and airlifted to a regional medical center for treatment.

“The injured firefighter remains in the hospital in critical condition, and a hospital liaison has been assigned to assist the family during this time.

“A Lessons Learned Review Team has been assigned, and is working with the Butte Falls Field Office and Oregon Department of Forestry in Medford to provide a review and detailed report of the incident. The intent of the review is to learn from the events surrounding this incident and prevent future occurrences.”


The August 9, 2019 National Situation Report had the East Evans Creek Fire listed as a suppression fire at 156 acres with 10 hand crews, 16 fire engines, and 5 helicopters for a total of 287 personnel.

Milepost 97 Fire slows traffic on I-5 in Southwest Oregon

satellite photo Milepost 97 Fire in Southwest Oregon
Satellite photo showing smoke from the Milepost 97 Fire in Southwest Oregon spreading across Southern Oregon and Northern California at 6:30 p.m. PDT July 27, 2019.

(Originally published at 6:08 a.m. PDT July 29, 2019)

Firefighters on the Milepost 97 Fire just south of Canyonville, Oregon were able to knock down a 20-acre spot fire Saturday and Sunday on the east side of Interstate 5 near Turkey Creek that threatened to suddenly complicate the suppression of the fire. Following that, the Incident Management Team established a Division of resources dedicated to picking up any additional spot fires across the freeway.

(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Milepost 97 Fire, including the most current, click here.)

Most of the active fire behavior Sunday was on the southeast side one ridge to the west of Interstate 5 about half a mile from the freeway, and two locations on the west side. Approximately 4.5 miles of the fire perimeter is adjacent to or very near the Interstate south of Canyonville. This is a step toward containment and after that area is mopped up it will reduce the chances of spotting across the highway in that location and the need to possibly close the highway to traffic in that particular area. So far the Interstate has remained open to traffic, but at times has been reduced to one lane in each direction in some areas.

A mapping flight Sunday night determined the fire has burned 11,668 acres, an increase of 659 acres in the previous 24 hours.

map Milepost 97 Fire Oregon wildfire
Map showing the location of the Milepost 97 Fire in southwest Oregon (the red line) at 12:18 a.m. PDT July 29, 2019. The white line was the perimeter about 27 hours before.

In the video below the Mail Tribune reports that after the fire started Wednesday, July 24 at approximately 10:00 p.m., there was only one air tanker working the fire Thursday morning beginning at 9:45 a.m. By that night the fire had grown to 1,650 acres.

On Sunday the firefighting resources assigned to the fire included 48 hand crews, 41 Engines, 45 Dozers, 14 Water Tenders, 13 helicopters, and 2 Single Engine Air Tankers for a total of 931 personnel.

Thieves steal equipment from firefighters busy fighting a wildfire

It happened on the Milepost 97 Fire in southwest Oregon

stolen trailer firefighters
Trailer that was apparently stolen from the Douglas Forest Protective Association July 27, 2019.

Some lowlife stole a trailer and its contents from firefighters that were working on the Milepost 97 Fire near Canyonville, Oregon Friday night.

“Apparently someone needed our cargo trailer and the firefighting equipment inside it more than we did and helped themselves to it last night,” Douglas Forest Protective Association firefighters wrote on Saturday. “This trailer was being used on the Milepost 97 Fire. If you see this trailer, please contact the Oregon State Police.”

The VIN number for the trailer is 16HCB10185U041439.

Anyone with information about the trailer should call the Oregon State Police at 800-442-2068, or 911.

stolen trailer firefighters
Information about the trailer that was apparently stolen from the Douglas Forest Protective Association July 27, 2019.

Our Take:

It’s loathsome to steal. But it is despicable to take the equipment of firefighters who are distracted while they are trying to protect all of us, and busting their asses battling a dangerous wildfire . When caught and convicted, they deserve the maximum penalty allowed under the law.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Kelly. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Milepost 97 Fire moves south

The fire is 25 miles north of Grants Pass, Oregon

Milepost 97 Fire July 26, 2019
Milepost 97 Fire July 26, 2019. InciWeb.

(UPDATED at 10:15 a.m. PDT July 28, 2019)

The Milepost 97 Fire just south of Canyonville, Oregon grew incrementally Saturday, expanding by an average of less than a quarter mile on all sides, but added 2,131 acres to bring the total to 11,009 acres. It spotted across to the east side of Interstate 5 near Turkey Creek at Milepost 94 four miles south of Canyonville. Firefighters on the ground and in the air worked to contain the spot fire. (see the map below)

The fire is burning within a fire scar from 1987 filled with hazardous snags and overgrown brush.

map Milepost 97 Fire Oregon wildfire
3-D map showing the location of the Milepost 97 Fire in southwest Oregon at 9:45 p.m. PDT July 27, 2019 (the red line). The white line was the perimeter 22 hours before.

A total of 931 personnel are assigned to the fire, including 37 hand crews and 41 engines.

Most of the fire perimeter saw additional growth Saturday during moderate weather conditions except for an area where it bumped into Interstate 5. If this fire suppression capability continues, and especially if the weather worsens, it could lead to the fire becoming very large with a prolonged suppression campaign.

(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Milepost 97 Fire, including the most current, click here.)

map Milepost 97 Fire Oregon wildfire
Map showing the location of the Milepost 97 Fire in southwest Oregon at 9:45 p.m. PDT July 27, 2019.

(UPDATED at 4:17 p.m. PDT July 27, 2019)

wildfire smoke Milepost 97 Fire Oregon
Satellite photo of smoke from the Milepost 97 Fire in Southwest Oregon, Saturday afternoon, July 27, 2019.

Some lowlife stole a trailer and its contents from firefighters that were working on the Milepost 97 Fire near Canyonville, Oregon Friday night. More information.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has Level 2 “GET SET” evacuation notices for all residences on the west side of Interstate 5 between mileposts 88 and 83. This includes:

Barton Road
Azalea-Glen Road
Old Booth Lane
Harrel Lane
Hobbs Lane
Fortune Branch Road on the Azalea-Glen side
Forrest Road
Realty Road
Quines Creek Road
Mobley Drive

Additionally, all residences off Upper Cow Creek Road starting at Interstate 5 milepost 88, east to the base of Galesville Dam are being elevated to a Level 2.

Level 2 or “Get Set” means significant danger and you are encouraged to leave. If you decide to stay, be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice.


(Originally published at 8:49 a.m. PDT July 27, 2019)

The Milepost 97 Fire in southwest Oregon has spread south 6.5 miles since it started just south of Canyonville Wednesday night. A mapping flight at 11:30 p.m. PDT Friday found that it had reached to within 2 miles of Azalea and 7 miles northeast of Glendale. It has burned over 8,800 acres. (a map is below)

(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Milepost 97 Fire, including the most current, click here.)

So far the fire has paralleled Interstate 5 on the west side of the freeway, which has remained open. However the southbound off-ramp at Exit 95 (Canyon Creek) three miles south of Canyonville was closed Friday night.

3-D map Milepost 97 Fire Oregon wildfire
3-D map showing the location of the Milepost 97 Fire in southwest Oregon at 11:30 p.m. PDT July 26, 2019.

On Thursday the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office issued a Level 3 “Go” evacuation order for approximately three residences in the 100 to 300 blocks of Ritchie Road.   On Friday the office announced a Level 1 “Ready” evacuation notice for all residences on the west side of Interstate 5 between mileposts 88-83.  Level 1 “Ready” means be ready for the potential to evacuate and as always, have a “go kit” ready.

The Milepost 97 Fire is burning through a mixture of private industrial timberlands, Oregon and California Railroad Revested Lands Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and areas held in trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the Cow Creek Tribe.

Both ground and aviation resources are currently engaged in fully suppressing the fire with seven helicopters, two large air tankers, and two single engine air tankers supporting firefighters on the ground.

The Oregon Department of Forestry’s Incident Management Team 3 assumed command of the fire at 6 p.m. Friday. The Incident Command Post is in Tri-City near Pruner Road and Industrial Way.

map Milepost 97 Fire Oregon wildfire
Map showing the location of the Milepost 97 Fire in southwest Oregon at 11:30 p.m. PDT July 26, 2019.

Smoke from the Milepost 97 Fire has spread through southern Oregon and northern California. Some of the cities in Oregon affected are Grants Pass, Medford, and Ashland. And in California, Yreka, Weed, Mt. Shasta, and Redding.

smoke air quality Milepost 97 fire Oregon California
Map from Purple Air showing air quality at locations in Southern Oregon and Northern California. Cities and states identified in black by Wildfire Today.

More information about smoke from the Milepost 97 Fire at Wildfire Today.