Crews on the Lookout for Fires

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CENTRAL POINT, Ore. — In Jackson County, crews gather resources to put out several lightning-caused fires overnight.

A helicopter has been in and out of the Oregon Department of Forestry base since 6 a.m. Crews have already detected several fires in the northern part of Jackson County.

In the past two days, crews have caught 20 lightning caused fires. The fires range in size between a quarter of an acre and a tenth of an acre. They say with the heavy smoke, the helicopters are the best resource for them to detect these fires.

Crews are limited from seeing out of the fire-spotting cameras at this point. They say the cameras are like the human-eye. If a spotter can’t see past the smoke, neither can the camera.

“Throughout the day though, with all of the smoke sometimes we have really great success other times they’re all really clouded in, so it’s smoked-in, but that’s common for all of our lookouts including our staff lookouts,” said ODF Protection Planner Matthew Krunglevich.

ODF says the helicopters are also limited from the air. The heavy smoke limits the crews’ visibility. Sometimes they can see up to 6 miles. Some days less than a mile.

ODF has numerous firefighter engines and dozers to go out once crews have pinpointed the location of the fires. It’s not just the fire spotting cameras or air resources, but loggers who also will help crews be on the look-out for fires.