<BR> 97 wildfires blamed on lightning; four reportedly caused by people<BR>
- Bill Sheehy
- Central Oregonian - News
>The Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center responded to a total of 101 fires, covering about 31,000 acres, most caused by last week's lightning storms
Last week's rash of lightning storms were blamed for about 100 wildfires which scorched more than 31,000 acres of timber and grasslands. The storms that blew over central Oregon Wednesday caused most of the fires. Reportedly, none of the fires threatened structures and all but one is reported to have been contained.
Among the largest fire was the Bald Peter Fire on the Warm Springs Indian reservation, northwest of Sisters. This lightning caused fire had burned more than 1,800 acres, mostly fir, lodgepole pine and brush. Much of it is burning in stands of insect-killed trees. That fire is expected to be contained tomorrow.
Approximately 650 firefighters and support personnel from the tribes, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Oregon Department of Forestry, Jefferson County Fire District, Jefferson County Sheriff)s Office, BLM, Forest Service and contract crews continue to battle the blaze.
The Ochoco and Deschutes national forests did not suffer any new starts late in the week, while fire suppression efforts continued late in the weekend on 15 fires. These were holdover lightning strikes from storms that came through last Wednesday and Thursday. A total of 39 fires were attacked on the two forests during the series of storms.
Other fires includes the 4,200 acre Sentinel Peak Fire in Wheeler County burning about five miles southeast of Spray. The fire is burning on private and BLM land.
BLM crews are also on a 3,000-acre fire near Maupin and a 2500-acre fire near Antelope.
This year to date, there have been 101 statistical fires totaling approximately 31,000 acres. Ninety-seven were lightning-caused and four human-caused. Last year at this time, there had been 260 statistical fires totaling 301 acres. Thirty-three were lightning-caused and 227 human-caused.
Cooler temperatures and higher relative humidities are predicted to continue through the middle of the week, assisting firefighters in their efforts. However, stronger winds may accompany the marine air moving through the area, particularly at higher elevations.