The Chemult Fire & Effective Wildland Urban Interface
Two lightening strikes, with no accompanying rain, ignited the Chemult Fire on July 8, 2006. Responding in 3 minutes, an engine crew found the fire already an acre and burning in dense small lodgepole pine. Surface fuels produced flame lengths of 6 to 8 feet with significant tree torching, which ignited spot fires. A wind shift pushed the fire south into a previously thinned area bringing a decrease in flame lengths and rate of spread, allowing firefighters to quickly gain control. Had this not happened, the fire would have spread to both sides of nearby Hwy 97 and onto the town of Chemult, Oregon. Recent fuel treatments helped limit the size of the Chemult Fire to 3 acres.
The Chemult Ranger District and the local community are active partners in reducing hazardous fuels within the wildland urban interface (WUI) around the town of Chemult. The Chemult Fire started in one of three timber sales (Blaze, Torch and Flame) designed to reduce the fire hazard around Chemult.
Starting in 2004, the project has reduced hazardous fuels on nearly 5,000 acres in the WUI.
Much of the pre-commercial and commercial thinning, mowing, hand piling and excavator piling was done by local small business contractors. Title II funding from the Fremont-Winema Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) paid for some of the projects.
The goal of the Fremont-Winema National Forest's Fuel Reduction Program is to build resiliency into the landscape to prevent catastrophic wildfires, restore ecosystems when fires do occur and provide economic benefits in communities. This program focuses on the healthy recovery of ecological functions, wildlife habitat and biological diversity by utilizing a combination of mechanical and prescribed burn treatments.
For more information contact: Ed Guzman, Interagency Fire Management Officer, Fremont-Winema National Forests, firstname.lastname@example.org or at (541) 947-6264.