NEAR BUTTE FALLS, Ore. – Thunderstorms continue to be a threat across Southern Oregon, with 16 lightning induced fires sparking early Wednesday morning. The largest of those 16, is burning near Butte Falls across 4 acres.
“Right now it’s very dry, so we’re operating under the assumption that we’re going to get quite a few fires out there,” Charles Huey with the Oregon Department of Forestry said.
But ODF says half the battle is finding the flames. When hundreds of lightning strikes are reported, smoke reports come in keeping fire crews almost constantly on the move.
“Those guys in the pickup trucks trying to guide the crews in may be darting around looking for advantage points to get that overall view,” Huey explained.
Wednesday morning lightning started a fire near Cobleigh Road of Butte Falls Highway. There was quite a few strikes in the area. With the help of its lightning tracker software, ODF says the fire that charred about 3 acres was lightning sparked.
“We know there’s been some fires in the Cobleigh Road area, probably started by these lightning strikes right here,” Huey said.
The on-the-go crews are initial assault forces. That means they have a day or so to get the fire under control before it’s handed over to out-of-the area crews. While these firefighters don’t come from the larger fires burning in our area, they do borrow resources from those fights.
“If they have helicopters they’re not using, we will bring them over and they will lend a hand with it,” Huey said.
When they’re not fighting fires, they’re searching for them.
“If they were looking for one they can’t find, they go find one they can find.”
ODF says the threat for lightning-sparked fires continues even after the lightning strikes. The fires can start sometimes days after the lightning strike.