Wildfires spread to Weyerhaeuser timberlands

With wildfires raging in the Pacific Northwest and northern California, forest products giant Weyerhaeuser said that some of its timberlands in Oregon have been impacted by the disaster.

Reports indicate that more a million acres have been burned in Oregon alone due to this season’s fires.

Weyerhaeuser owns about 1.6 million acres of timberlands in Oregon and 1.3 million acres in Washington. Overall, the company owns, controls, or manages more than 11 million acres of timberlands in the United States and Canada.

The Seattle-based company said that, as of now, the full scope of the impact on its timberlands is not clear. Weyerhaeuser also said that it is committed to supporting affected people and communities as they assess the damage and begin the recovery process.

On Aug. 14, Weyerhaeuser announced that it was making a $150,000 donation to the Red Cross in support of communities affected by the wildfires, including Oregon.

"These fires have brought devastation and trauma to many communities where our employees live and work," said Devin Stockfish, president and CEO of Weyerhaeuser. "This donation is just a first step in helping these communities recover, and we know it could take many months or years for some to build back and heal. Our company has been operating in the Pacific Northwest since 1900, and we're going to continue to stay engaged and make sure all these areas are able to recover and thrive again."  

The company said that it will evaluate conditions on the ground when conditions are safer. All company employees are safe and accounted for at this time, Weyerhaeuser said while noting that the company is assisting state and federal agencies with fire-suppression efforts.

Just how many other timberland owners and sawmill operations in the region have been impacted is also unknown.

But this season’s wildfires are spreading at a time when lumber prices have reached all-time highs and suppliers are hard-pressed to keep up with demand. The wildfires of 2020 are likely to place added stress on the market.

Fire authorities have estimated that the damage in California and Oregon may not be contained and fully extinguished until November.

"Our focus right now is on keeping our people safe and out of harm's way during this challenging situation," said Stockfish. "Our thoughts are with everyone affected by this disaster, and we thank the firefighters and first responders working to save lives and contain the fires as quickly as possible."