Worthington Fire caused by lightning strike, fire officials say

(Photo courtesy Pat Scupien)

The Worthington Fire northeast of Eagle Point has not dramatically increased in size since the end of last week, thanks to the aggressive efforts of fire crews.

Posted: Aug 6, 2020 2:35 PM
Updated: Aug 6, 2020 3:59 PM

EAGLE POINT, Ore. — Investigators have determined that a fast-growing wildfire sparked between Eagle Point and Butte Falls last week was caused by a lightning strike, according to the latest update from fire officials.

Crews responded to the fire roughly five miles to the northeast of Eagle Point on the afternoon of July 30, later prompting evacuation orders for one nearby road. The approximate location is at the end of Worthington Road, among wooded hills between Eagle Point and Butte Falls. ODF described the area as forest and brush — partly on BLM land and on private property protected by ODF.

While Siskiyou, Klamath, and Lake counties have been hardest-hit by thunderstorms over the past several weeks, StormWatch 12 Chief Meteorologist Matt Hoffman confirmed that this area of Jackson County did see lightning strikes on Monday, July 27 — likely resulting in a small smoldering fire that exploded in size on Thursday with high temperatures and strong winds.

Fire managers said on Thursday that the Worthington Fire is now being held at 761 acres, with containment up to 80 percent. 

"Fire crews are working on mop-up to improve and strengthen the fire line, expanding and clearing the fire perimeter to 150’ deep," officials said. "Safety of the public and wildland firefighters is the number one priority, so crews continue to remove hazardous fire-weakened trees in transportation corridors."

BLM issued a statement last Friday afternoon, crediting the swift response with keeping the Worthington Fire from spreading overnight.

"The initial and extended attack teams have been extraordinary in the aggressive efforts to contain this fire," the agency said.

All evacuations on the fire have been downgraded to a level 1 “Be Ready” status.

The Incident Command Post for the Worthington Fire is located at Eagle Point Middle School. The team has requested that the public avoid the post to protect firefighter and community health.

"The response to this fire is a coordinated effort of county, state, and federal partners, with most of the fire fighters being locals from the Rogue Valley," fire officials said. "As the activity on this fire continues to decline, resources from the Worthington Fire are available to support other fires in the area."

As of Wednesday, there were 345 personnel, 13 hand crews, three dozers, eight water tenders, two helicopters, and 10 fire engines on the scene.

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