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Lightning starts five fires

Wildland firefighters on Monday were mopping up the largest of five wildfires sparked by a lightning storm Saturday night.

Both the 18-acre Queens Branch fire and the 15-acre Dixie Gulch fire, burning about nine miles north of the city of Rogue River, were controlled by ground crews aided by water-ferrying helicopters, said Brian Ballou, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Forestry's Southwest Oregon District.

Lightning also ignited a 1-acre fire on Elk Mountain and a quarter-acre fire in the McCoy Creek drainage a dozen miles south of Glendale, Ballou said, adding those fires in the district's Grants Pass Unit have been snuffed out.

A fifth lightning-caused fire, a quarter-acre blaze near Rustler Peak in Jackson County, also has been put out by firefighters, he said.

However, he noted that fire danger remains high because of the continued dry conditions in the local woods.

Fire season in Jackson and Josephine counties normally continues until at least mid-October.

To end the season, "We've got to get some meaningful rain," Ballou said.