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Fire in the Forest

This past November the Arch Cape Forest, and neighboring forest land experienced small-scale fires, an uncommon occurrence during the “wet” season on the Coast. The fire which took place in the Arch Cape Forest stemmed from an assumed campfire, started by people in the Arch Cape Forest property.

On Sunday, November 12, 2022, Arch Cape residents noticed a plume of smoke coming from within the Arch Cape Forest. Due to a quick response from Bob Cerelli (president of the Cannon Beach Rural Fire Protection District), and David Dougherty (local resident and forester for Lewis and Clark Timber) the fire was able to be located and reported to the fire district and Oregon Department of Forestry. Unfortunately, when accessing the Forest, emergency personnel did not have keys to the gate, slowing the access of the fire department to the property. Luckily, David was able to use a backpack pump to reduce most of the fire and minimize the spread until the Fire District arrived. Once in the forest, the Fire District fully extinguished the fire.

Thank you for the quick and capable response from David and Bob, and the staff and volunteers of the Fire District!

Photo Provided by North Coast Land Conservancy Staff

Effective Fire Response in the Arch Cape Forest Going Forward: A clear result from this small fire in the Arch Cape Forest is that a better system for managing gate access is required to ensure a rapid response to fires in the future. Conversation between Arch Cape Water District, North Coast Land Conservancy, Lewis and Clark Timberlands, and Cannon Beach Rural Fire Protection District determined that all emergency responders and community partners will have a full understanding of the protocol to ensure the gates remain fully accessible.

Limiting Access to the Arch Cape Forest During High Fires Risk: Following multiple fires in the vicinity, the Forest was closed for a weekend in Mid-November. Closing the Forest is a measure that was taken to reduce the risk of additional fires being started when the area’s Fire District is at capacity. Reducing access during periods of high risk is the best approach to minimize threat to our community members, visitors, and the forest itself.

Fires in the Fall: Starting in October or November, it is common for forest managers to implement slash burning to manage wood debris on their property. This reduces the fuel loads and excess wood waste. By doing so in the fall and into the winter, the potential for the fires to spread is lower, due to the cool and damp conditions. This fall, while there was significant rainfall along the coast through October, the month of November brought drier conditions than years past. These drier conditions, paired with surprise winds, led to multiple slash and brush fires escaping the initial boundaries set by the fire managers.

Photo Provided by North Coast Land Conservancy

Where We Go From Here: The Arch Cape Forest Management Committee, and Ben Hayes, our forester, will work with the Cannon Beach Rural Fire Protection District, neighboring land owners and other partners, to ensure that a proper fire management plan is in place going forward.

An effective system to communicate, isolate, and reduce the spread of fire in the forest will continue to be a priority of the management going forward.

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