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Jackson County dodges lightning strikes

Jackson County managed to dodge the lightning bolts that had weather forecasters and firefighting agencies preparing for the worst this week.

Klamath, Lake, Douglas, Josephine and Coos counties saw a smattering of cloud-to-ground lightning strikes over a 24-hour period Wednesday and Thursday, but not a single strike was recorded in Jackson County, National Weather Service officials said.

From 10 p.m. Wednesday to 10 p.m. Thursday, Klamath County saw 182 lightning strikes, while Lake County had 137, and Douglas County reported 13. Coos County saw three strikes and Josephine County counted two.

Northern California saw some action, with 338 strikes recorded in Modoc County and 78 in Siskiyou County over the same 24-hour period.

“We did not expect that Modoc ... would get the most,” said meteorologist Ryan Sandler. “We thought it would be more the Siskiyous, Siskiyou County into the Cascades. So that was a surprise.”

“It doesn’t look like we had one ground strike register in Jackson County for the whole thing,” he added.

Wildland firefighters brought in extra resources due to the lightning forecast, hoping to avoid a repeat of 2018 when a July lightning storm sparked more than 150 fires, including the 175,258-acre Klondike fire that choked the sky with smoke into October.

Firefighters responded to a single lightning-caused fire Thursday, in the Buckskin area south of Cave Junction in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, holding it to one-tenth of an acre. A “handful” of strikes were reported within the forest, according to a U.S. Forest Service news release.

On Wednesday, the Oregon Department of Forestry responded to a lightning-caused fire southwest of Cave Junction that was held to one-hundredth of an acre. Fire officials are urging the public to remain diligent and abide by fire season protocols.

“We’re still in extreme fire danger,” said ODF public information officer Natalie Weber. “People are going to be out doing fun things. We’re just hoping that they’re going to be cognizant if they’re camping in designated campgrounds that they’re being careful with their campfires, that people are continuing to follow the current restrictions and just have a safe and fun holiday weekend.”

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4468.

Lightning over Roxy Ann Peak in 2007. Mail Tribune/file photo