MEDFORD, Ore. — The U.S. Forest Service is bringing in additional resources to southwest Oregon in the off-chance that thunderstorms in the forecast bring lightning west of the Cascades — an intuition shared by state and local agencies that recently staged multi-state strike teams in Jackson County.
According to officials with the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, predicted weather patterns are expected to draw some "monsoonal moisture" into southern Oregon early this week, creating the threat of thunderstorms and a heightened risk of lightning starts.
"Although the lightning activity predicted for early this week is expected to occur east of us, we are prepared for the worst, and hoping for the best," said Assistant Fire Staff Mike McCann.
USFS cited the extreme behavior seen on other fires in the region, with spread difficult to control and fire behavior threatening both firefighter and public safety.
As a result of these conditions and a lack of available resources in the Pacific Northwest — many of them tied up on major events like the Bootleg Fire — USFS has called in firefighting resources from outside of the region to help.
As of Monday, officials said that they had 15 additional engines on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, with three more en route. Some are coming from as far away as Florida, Arkansas, Nevada, and Alaska. The Alaskan engine will have to travel on a barge during its journey onto the mainland and south.
A Type 2 initial attack crew, a dozer and water tender are also available to respond. USFS said that these resources will be staged at ranger district offices across the forest.
Much of the federal resources for southern Oregon are tied up on incidents like the Jack Fire and the Bootleg Fire, including the RRSNF's complement helicopters, air attack, two engines, the Siskiyou Rappel crew, and the Rogue interagency Hotshot Crew.