NPR Story
2:50 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Oregon Governor Says Wildfires Point To Need For Forest Thinning

Gov. John Kitzhaber followed his Wednesday tour of Oregon’s biggest wildfire by calling for Congress pay for forest health projects that would thin overgrown forests and reduce future fire danger.

"These fires are a symptom of a much larger forest health issue," he said at the Howard Prairie Lake campground, which is being used as base camp fighting the Oregon Gulch fire. "We just have to deal with the root causes. That means lending some urgency to improving the health and resiliency of our forests ... There's no reason in the world we should be doing this year after year."

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week said the U.S. Forest Service will have soon have to start pulling funding from thinning projects and other programs to pay for the continued battle against wildfires.

Crews battling the Oregon Gulch fire have finally gotten the upper hand. Chris Cline, Oregon Department of Forestry incident commander for the Oregon Gulch fire said that crews have completed the line around the eastern tip of the fire.

"We pushed it from the north, we pushed it from the south in California and just kept pinching and pinching and pinching and we stopped it yesterday, " Cline said. "This fire is 100 percent lined. It's not 100 percent contained, it's sitting at about 35 percent as of last night ... but I think we're gonna hold it here."

The nearly 1,600 personnel fighting the Oregon Gulch fire are still working hot spots and reinforcing the encircling line. ODF spokesperson Link Smith said the next few days will be crucial.

"We've still got all our forces out here. we've got a lot of iron, we've got a lot of air support still, all our personnel are still here, and we've just gonna keep strengthening those lines and making sure this thing doesn't get away."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Correction: Aug. 7, 2014 An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Chris Cline, Oregon Department of Forestry incident commander for the Oregon Gulch fire.

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