GALICE, Ore. — Dozens of fires are sparked by lighting across Southern Oregon, and crews are concerned more could be on the way. Many of the fires are still very small, and crews are trying to get them contained.
Fire crews say there were nearly two dozen spot fires in Josephine County, with reports of fires in Wolf Creek, Wilderville and Galice. Lightning strikes sparked about 20 separate fires, all of them in very remote areas of Josephine County, and crews have been out since early Friday morning.
Look closely, that’s a fire in the mountains near Galice. It’s small, and remote but there are dozens more like it, making the firefight a little more difficult.
“With lightning storms, they put down the lightning bolt that cause the fires in some of the most awkward-to-reach places and it’s proving true again,” explained Brian Ballou, with the Oregon Dept. of Forestry.
Lightning sparked 75 fires in southwest Oregon, most of them in Douglas County, and at least 20 in Josephine County. The Oregon Department of Forestry says the largest is just 3 acres.
“Quite a few of them are a single tree on fire, a small amount of ground, to a quarter to a half acre in size,” said Ballou.
The fires are still a concern because they’re so hard to get to. So, most of the work is being done from the air, while ground crews search for access points.
“We have all of our three helicopters that are dedicated to the district up in the air, and I’ve heard of two air tankers being used now,” said Ballou.
Firefighters are watching the weather, because more thunderstorms could bring more lighting, and possibly more fires and even without lightning, the storms could affect the flames already there.
“The thunderstorms could bring us more winds, erratic winds, and that’s always hard to work with,” said Ballou.
ODF says changes in wind or heat could allow those fires to spread, so they will be keeping an eye on it for the rest of the day.