Lightning-caused wildfires plague firefighters, more lightning coming
- Bill Sheehy
- Central Oregonian - News
>Wildfire danger remain high as firefighters clean up the season's first series of fires with more thunderstorm activities in the forecastMore that 37 fire starts were reported so far this week to the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center (COIDC) as of press time. Firefighters had responded to 13 by Tuesday evening and the rest had started during Wednesday evening's lightning storm. While nearly all of the fires are believed to be caused by the lightning storm, the investigation into the cause of one of the fires is still under investigation.
Engine crews from responding agencies; Oregon Department of Forestry, Ochoco and Deschutes National Forest and the BLM quickly reacted and most of the fires were contained. Wednesday a BIA crew from Warm Springs joined in to assist. Numerous pieces of heavy equipment and water tankers, an Interagency helicopter, smokejumpers and a single engine air tanker are being used to battle the blazes. According to COIDC, none of the fires are directly threatening any communities.
Christy Donham, Information officer with the state Forestry Department has been working out of COIDC.
She reports that Wednesday's fires covered a total of approximately 405 acres in central Oregon. There were 11 on BLM protected land, 18 on the Deschutes National Forest, five on ODF land and three in the Ochoco National Forest. As of this morning, all but one of the fires has been contained.
According to reports, only slightly more than 12 acres had burned in the first 13 fires. However, with conditions in the forests and grasslands as dry as they are, fire officials are keeping a close watch on things. Today's plan of attack, Donham said, is to have additional smoke jumpers on standby, conduct more aerial detection flights and continue to provide firefighting support to fires out of the area.
Officials are reminding people that conditions are critical and they ask that everyone ti be careful with fire. Know fire regulations before striking a match or starting a campfire.
Grant Kemp, assistant manager of COIDC said even with the rain that came with the storms, the forests are still tinder dry. "Fire starts have a great potential to spread quickly and become disastrous in minutes," he warned.