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:: Home > The Watershed > Hot topic: Fire > Catastrophic Fire
Catastrophic Fire ...

Despite our efforts at fire suppression, the amount of forest burned each year has begun to increase. Today, most of Oregon's forestland is at risk from larger and more severe fires than we have had in the past. This is especially true in the drier eastern and southwestern forests. Almost 40% of Oregon's forestland is at HIGH risk (red area on map).

map of fire risk in Oregon

spotted owl The Biscuit Fire recently burned about 400,000 acres in southwestern Oregon. It was one of the largest fires in Oregon's recorded history, and cost $150 million to fight. Severe fires like this pose a threat to commercial timber, drinking water, and some of our favorite recreation areas. Fish, wildlife, soil, and the other components of forest ecosystems are all in jeopardy. For example, the Biscuit Fire severely damaged more than half of the spotted owl "home ranges" in the area. Recovery may take centuries.

Fires in Southern California recently destroyed thousands of homes and killed dozens of people, despite the efforts of legions of firefighters. The cost of such fires is enormous. It could happen here. Nearly 240,000 Oregon homes are vulnerable to wildfire.

Wildfire burning near house. Photo by Tom Iraci, USDA Forest Service