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Lightning storm starts wildfire in Applegate

A Memorial Day thunderstorm shot out close to 90 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes and was the likely cause of a wildfire in the Applegate.

Over a 24-hour period, 87 strikes touched down across Jackson and Josephine counties, according to the National Weather Service. The bulk of the activity occurred from about 4 to 8 p.m.

The wildfire was reported at 4:39 p.m. off Forest Creek Road in an area that was a mix of woodland and grassland, Oregon Department of Forestry public information officer Melissa Cano said. She added the official cause is still under investigation, but that a lightning strike is probably the culprit.

The blaze, dubbed the Timber Mountain fire, grew to about an acre in size, scorching trees and brush. ODF, which is responsible for 1.8 million acres of wildland in both counties, responded with three engines and had the fire fully contained within about two hours. The fire was not near any structures and no injuries were reported.

Firefighters continue to patrol the area today, watching for reignitions. It was a quiet day overall, Cano said.

"We didn't have as many lightning starts as anticipated," she said.

U.S. National Forest Service officials were not fighting any active fires either, according to agency public information officer Chamise Kramer.

The rest of the week looks to be calmer, weather officials said. Partly cloudy skies are forecast for the Rogue Valley through Thursday, with high temperatures in the mid 70s to low 80s expected. Temperatures are expected to heat back up to the mid to high 80s by Friday.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.

Fire burned through an acre of wildland in the Applegate following a lightning storm. [Submitted photo]