Oregon Department of Forestry's Klamath Unit prepares for lightning strikes

The Oregon Department of Forestry's (ODF) Klamath Unit is busy keeping track of all the lightning over the past few days. Now the agency is making sure none of the plants hit by those lightning strikes start any big fires.

Posted: Jul 15, 2019 11:19 PM

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore.-- The Oregon Department of Forestry's (ODF) Klamath Unit is busy keeping track of all the lightning over the past few days. Now the agency is making sure none of the plants hit by those lightning strikes start any big fires.

Terry Spivey has a very important job over at ODF’s Klamath Unit. He monitors the eight cameras on four different lookouts and looks for smoke.

"We're watching that all the time to make sure that we're not caught unaware,” said Spivey. "The smaller the smoke plume, the better. That's the big thing is to get them while they're small because when they're big that's bad news."

The Klamath Basin got a few lightning strikes over the last 24 or so hours. Crews have been out patrolling those areas since Monday morning  making sure fires don't spring up. Protection Unit Forester Randall Baley said if one does start, they're more than ready to get it out quickly.

"We're ready with our engines, our heavy equipment, which is dozers and a lot of water tenders. Then we have our aviation resources, type 3 and type 2 helicopters,” added Baley.

Spivey admits most fires are reported to dispatch by ordinary people in the area who saw the fires first but he’s making sure every smoke plume from lightning gets a crew sent to it immediately.

"We can catch the ones where nobody is around out there in the woods,” Spivey added. “We're there where nobody else is or looking."

Right now, the fire danger level in the Klamath Basin is “moderate.” The ODF Klamath Unity expects that to go up to “high” maybe even as soon as Saturday.

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