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Fire Crews Watching the Forecast

odf lightningCENTRAL POINT, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Forestry will be keeping a close eye on the weather forecast over the next few days, watching for lightning-sparked fires.

ODF said at one point Tuesday it was looking like Jackson and Josephine counties would be hit by thunderstorms, but the storms curved to the east to Klamath and Lake counties, then looped up to Douglas County, and missed the Rogue Valley entirely.

ODF said that was fortunate, because the extreme heat this week has dried out more vegetation and created more fire fuels. They said those thunderstorms are not always a bad thing for firefighters, because sometimes it can bring moisture that the region needs. But the chance of rain also brings with it the risk of lighting sparked fires.

“Sometimes it’s a reasonable tradeoff if the storms are going to be wet and bring quite a lot of rain,” said ODF Spokesman Brian Ballou. “You never know what you’re going to get so we’d just as soon skip it entirely.”

ODF said it has staff and cameras at all of their fire lookouts, because sparks can smolder on the ground for several days before they send up smoke and become visible.