Severe weather could spark further fires

More than 40 fires have popped up in southwest Oregon in the wake of lightning strikes that peppered the region over the weekend.

Firefighters could face more work today. The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning Monday for scattered thunderstorms and dry lightning through early this morning for eastern Jackson County and the southern Cascades and Siskiyous.

Smokejumpers, hand crews, helicopters and air tankers have been deployed to battle the blazes, most of which are small.

"The storms carried some precipitation but that's kind of a double-edged sword," said Paul Galloway, spokesman for the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. "The precipitation helps put them out but it also means we may have something popping up in a few days after they dry out."

He was referring to "sleeper fires" that can smolder for a few days before flaring up when hot weather returns by week's end.

At least 20 lightning-sparked wildfires have been found on national forest land. The biggest is the 150-acre Lonesome fire on the High Cascades Ranger District some 15 miles northeast of Union Creek. That fire is "creeping and smoldering" in an area of wet meadows, officials reported.

The Bessie Rock Fire, about eight miles east of Prospect, had burned some 25 acres by Monday evening, but the remaining 11 fires on the district were less than five acres, and most were being mopped up late Monday.

Five fires were burning in the Wild Rivers Ranger District, with the largest being the 65-acre Horse Mountain fire about 15 miles north of Cave Junction.

The 10-acre Fish fire located in the Sturgis Creek drainage in the Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District had been lined and was being mopped up Monday evening.

The Gold Beach Ranger District reported one fire that had been lined at 1 acre and was being mopped up.

On lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry, 22 fires have been found in Jackson and Josephine counties, including 14 in Jackson County and eight in Josephine.

The largest in Jackson was the 81/2-acre Joe Dyer fire, while the biggest in Josephine was the 4-acre Birdseye Creek fire just south of the city of Rogue River.

Most of the fires on ODF-protected land in Jackson County are in the northern part of the county, while the Josephine fires are east of Marial deep in the lower Rogue River drainage and northwest of Selma.

The ODF protects U.S. Bureau of Land Management, state, county and private forest, brush and grasslands.


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