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Firefighters prepared for lightning strikes

Firefighters in the Applegate Valley say they're prepared to battle fires caused by lightning strikes.

Posted: Aug 9, 2019 3:16 AM
Updated: Aug 9, 2019 2:28 PM

JACKSONVILLE, Ore. -- Crews in the Applegate Valley Fire District increase their staffing during fire season. They add even more crew members when they know lightning storms might happen. 

Each year, these firefighters train for different situations, just like the Little Applegate Complex Fire that was caused by lightning last weekend. 

"It's not uncommon that a lightning storm come through Jackson and Josephine County and starts dozens, if not a hundred or more small fires in a very short period of time," said Chris Wolfard, operations chief with the Applegate Valley Fire District.

THROWBACK: Klondike Fire the last standing of July 15 lightning-caused wildfires

That's why firefighters can get spread pretty thin when lightning strikes, Wolfard said. Firefighters also face special challenges when fighting fires caused by lightning, he added. 

Lightning normally strikes tall places, like ridges. This makes it challenging to actually get to fires caused by lightning. These fires also come with a storm. That means there's almost always a lot of wind that can spread the fire to nearby places, like a neighborhood. 

This is why firefighters said you should make sure to clear out overgrown grass and keep plants away from your house. 

"Firefighters are for emergencies," Wolfard said. "So if you can do the work ahead of time to prevent that emergency by reducing the fuels and by preventing ignitions, you won't need to call the firefighters."

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