MEDFORD, Ore. — After a thunderstorm peppered Siskiyou and Jackson counties with lightning strikes over Thursday evening, firefighters are still working to locate and respond to fire starts as they appear.
The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest said Friday that it responded to several smoke reports, finding four confirmed lightning fires on Thursday. Two more fires were spotted on Friday morning, with crews headed out to find them.
According to officials, there were about 35 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes in the RRSNF during the storm. All of the fires are located in the Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District in the Applegate area.
“We are doing our best to extinguish these fires,” said James Courtwright, Siskiyou Mountain District Ranger.
The largest fire so far is the Maple Dell Fire. The fire's main body is estimated at five acres, but there are four spot fires that bring the total to roughly 10 acres. The three other known fires from Thursday were all caught at a quarter acre or less.
Three engines, a Type 2 initial attack crew, one water tender, and a Type 1 helicopter are assigned to the Maple Dell fire, and resources remain on the scene of the other fires. Additional resources have also been ordered with more lightning predicted in the forecast.
“All lines held overnight on the four existing fires. Crews are actively engaged in securing the four spots on the Maple Dell. We feel confident that all fires will be secured by mid-day Friday,” said Deputy Fire Staff-Operations Mike McCann.
RRSNF said that it will continue to patrol for more fires from Thursday's storm, both on the ground and in the air.
The Oregon Department of Forestry said that it is monitoring eight fires sparked Thursday night. The largest is the Palmer Fire in the Applegate Valley, estimated at an acre and mostly lined.
"The majority are in the Applegate area, and were extinguished last night at very small sizes. This morning, we already have firefighters out in their protection areas," ODF said.
In Siskiyou County, officials in the Klamath National Forest reported four small fires, all with resources on the scene. A reconaissance flight is planned for Friday to take stock of any fires that escaped notice.
A Red Flag Warning for isolated to scattered thunderstorms continues for Friday afternoon and evening, and Extreme fire danger remains in effect throughout southern Oregon.
"Low humidity, excessive heat and stronger than normal winds could quickly cause a fire to spread if left unattended," RRSNF said.