Lightning sparks 39 fires
Sunday and Monday afternoon lightning caused many fires around Central Oregon, the largest on Green Ridge and the Warm Springs Reservation. As of Tuesday, the largest fires remained out of control.
The electric storm which hit Central Oregon Sunday kicked off 39 news fires, according to the Central Oregon Fire Info. The largest was the Green Ridge Fire burning just 2 miles northeast of Camp Sherman in southwestern Jefferson County.
The Green Ridge fire was 30 acres as of Tuesday morning.
A Type 3 Central Oregon Fire Management Service Incident Management Team was brought in to manage the firefighting. Crews have constructed a fire line around approximately 40% of the blaze. Conditions are tough as the fire is burning through thick timber, and the uncontrolled fire edge is on a steep slope.
Aerial resources have been brought in to battle the blaze with retardant drops. On the ground, crews are using dozers to create fire lines, and in some cases, crews are taking advantage of burnt-out area from old fires as fuel breaks.
Crews have also had to jump to spot fires erupting past the fire line, to douse them before they erupt.
The fire has closed many public roads in the popular Camp Sherman-Metolius River area. Public access will remain impacted until the fires are squelched.
A small fire about a mile southeast of Haystack Reservoir, on the Crooked River National Grassland, also was reported Monday evening. It was expected to be mopped up on Tuesday.
Fortunately, in many areas that the lightning struck, the storm included rain, some heavy at times, which helped keep even more fires from starting. However, hot, breezy weather expected this week will be challenging for firefighters looking to corral the blazes.
The lightning strikes can also lead to fires erupting several days after impact.
Warm Springs blazes
Thunderstorms from Sunday, Aug. 16, and Monday, Aug. 17, started at least five wildland blazes on the reservation. As of Tuesday morning, two of the fires were contained, while three were still active. Hot weather expected on Tuesday and generally throughout the week increases the firefighting difficulty.
As of Tuesday, the Lion's Head fire was at 15 to 20 acres in size and was 0% contained. The North Butte, or P 515 fire, is at 300 acres and also 0% contained. Both fires are located on the southeastern quadrant of the reservation. The terrain includes steep slopes, brushy areas and timbered areas.
The most recent reported fire on Aug. 17 is at Quartz Butte and was reported Tuesday morning to be approximately 25 acres.
Warm Springs firefighters are responding to the fires and accessing other potential areas of concern. The total number of local resources responding is at 80 to 100 firefighters.
The reservation blazes received aerial support as well, with two tankers and a smoke jumper unit. An additional seven crews from outside the reservation were brought in, and more were expected to arrive Tuesday.
Seasonal hot weather is projected to continue with potential thunderstorms adding to the situation. The region is currently in a Level 3 High Fire Danger precaution.
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