'It’s frustrating - especially when you know it could have been prevented'
DILLARD, Ore. – This year, wildfires have had a ripple effect in Oregon communities, causing fire restrictions and hazardous air quality.
Logging companies have also taken a big hit.
The Horse Prairie Fire near Riddle burned nearly 17,000 acres, including a large swath of Roseburg Forest Products lands.
Many of the trees destroyed were only a couple of years old and still growing.
"Financially it’s big," said Aaron Aasen, Roseburg Forest Products District Forester in Dillard. "I mean, dollar-wise, I couldn’t really put a number on it at this point. But there's a large amount of investment that goes into reforesting the ground, and you hold that investment for 40, 50 years for your future yields."
Roseburg Forest Products is not alone.
The Seneca Sawmill Company also had about 1,000 acres of property destroyed by the Horse Prairie Fire and two other wildfires.
Seneca said there could be ways to prevent future wildfires from spreading so rapidly.
“I think that if we were able to manage our federal forests in a different way, both from a forest management perspective so that we're managing our forests on a more healthy basis and able to maintain the fuel structure in the forest so the fires don't have a lot of fuel to burn,” said Todd Payne, CEO for Seneca Sawmill Company.
Payne said the wildfires have caused a big restriction on log supply.
“The damage is going to impact most companies throughout Western Oregon, Washington and Northern California," Payne said. "As we get into the winter months that supply is going to remain constrained, keeping log prices up and putting the Pacific Northwest at a competitive disadvantage."
Roseburg Forest Products won't start cutting again until next week.
They said over the next three years, they will start reforestation on the burned lands.
They will salvage some older trees from burn sites as well.
Seneca is already back to cutting at some locations.
The Horse Prairie Fire was determined to be caused by human activity but is still under investigation.
It’s not the first fire to affect Roseburg Forest Products.
“Over the last five years, we’ve probably had about 23,000 acres affected by fire," Aasen said. "And it’s frustrating - especially when you know it could have been prevented."
The Horse Prairie Fire is just about put out, but loggers hope the recent string of wildfires serves as an eye-opener for wildfire prevention in future years.