CENTRAL POINT, Ore. -- The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) is monitoring lighting strikes across Southern Oregon as a storm rolls through our region.
The ODF lightning dispatch center monitors 22 cameras in Jackson and Josephine counties looking for lightning and smoke. They can track precipitation, and their model forecasts predict what areas will have higher chances of lightning. If they do see smoke, dispatchers can usually pinpoint an exact location and send fire crews out.
"We find a lot of the smoke before the public finds them because they're in the middle of the forest," says Chris James, the Lead Camera Dispatcher for ODF.
Many lightning fires are sparked in rugged terrain, so firefighters cannot pull off on the side of the road to put it out.
"There tends to be a lot of hiking with lightning fires," says Forest Officer Taylor Quigley, "They're usually smaller fires for the most part, a lot easier, and a lot quicker getting in and out," he says.
While the fires can be smaller, Quigley says lightning creates multiple fires that are completely scattered around.
"Yea we're running and gunning at that point. You're going from one to the next with not a lot of break in between," says Quigley.
ODF says their cameras can see land monitored by the Forest Service, BLM, Cal Fire, Coos County, and Douglas County. If a fire breaks out on any of their land, ODF can notify the correct agency.
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