FireWatch: Infrared flights find more lightning fires in southern Oregon as crews work on containment

Both the Oregon Department of Forestry and U.S. Forest Service found several new fires overnight as they continue to work on containment efforts.

Posted: Aug 3, 2021 12:03 PM
Updated: Aug 3, 2021 12:28 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. — As fire crews continue to work on containing a constellation of lightning-caused fires across southern Oregon, forestry officials say that they identified several more overnight throughout the region.

The Oregon Department of Forestry used a fixed-wing aircraft overnight to fly over Jackson and Josephine counties. With a combination of infrared technology and night vision goggles, the crew looked for heat sources in the region.

The ODF flight found two new fires overnight, and confirmed a third that firefighters had already been dispatched out to. The Skyline Fire was confirmed in the northwestern part of Jackson County, estimated at a quarter-acre. The Horse Mountain Fire was found in the same area, with a similar size. The third fire, the Jack Creek Fire, is on U.S. Forest Service land in the Applegate area.

Of the fires detected over the weekend, the largest and most challenging are the Buck Rock Fire north of Trail, the Round Top Fire northwest of Shady Cove, and the North Fork Anderson Creek Fire on Anderson Butte near Talent. Firefighters held lines on all three fires overnight, with slight increases in containment.

"All three are burning on steep slopes in high elevations, creating challenges for crews to dig line," ODF said in a statement. "There are currently no homes threatened across the district."

Officials at the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest confirmed the discovery of a new fire in the Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District, discovered via infrared flight, on top of the 16 fires found throughout the forest since the recent thunderstorms began. Resources are heading out to the area.

The largest RRSNF fires are the Bear Camp Fire and Maple Dell Fire, 5 acres and 10 acres respectively. In both cases, firefighters have lined the fires and are working on containment efforts.

"Holdover lightning fires are expected to appear as the upcoming cold front brings a drier air mass with low humidity over the region," RRSNF said. "A Haines Index of 6 is forecasted which indicates a high potential for fire growth and erratic fire behavior."

Forest Service officials say they are still calling in more firefighting resources because of the dangerous fire weather in the forecast, with the goal of deploying an aggressive initial attack when fires pop up. Already, the Bear Divide Hotshots from the Angeles National Forest are in southern Oregon, and more engines are on the way.

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