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ODF ready for holdover fires following Friday lightning

Oregon Department of Forestry crews responded to multiple smoke reports Friday following a storm in the region and corraled one fire that grew to 1/4 acre. (Courtesy photo, Oregon Department of Forestry)

The 87 lightning strikes recorded in Jackson County Friday sparked only one small fire, but forestry officials are asking people to keep an eye out for potential holdover blazes with delayed ignitions.

A Friday afternoon storm prompted the National Weather Service to issue a red flag warning — given when conditions are right for new wildfire starts — for areas east of the Southern Oregon Cascades, but there was some spillover into northeastern Jackson County, too. Some rain accompanied the strikes, generally between one-tenth and one-quarter of an inch, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Nieuwenhuis. But the rain might only delay new fire starts.

“At this point, because we got the rain, it is holding it off,” said Natalie Weber, public information officer for ODF’s Southwest District. “But if we do get warmer temperatures this week ... we could see some fires forming in that area, and kicking off in that heat. So we’re just asking people in the area, if they see anything, to call 911 and report it.”

ODF responded to some smoke reports in the area Friday, but only one fire was found, located along Highway 62 near the intersection with Crowfoot Road, southwest of Lost Creek Lake. Crews from ODF, Jackson County Fire District No. 3 and Jackson County Fire District No. 4 responded and contained the blaze to about a quarter acre, Weber said. Crews later confirmed a lightning strike caused the fire.

Fire agencies also received some smoke reports Sunday, though no fires were found, Weber added.

The bulk of the lightning Friday was along the Southern Oregon Cascades, Nieuwenhuis said. Weather officials documented 17 strikes in Douglas County and 61 strikes in Klamath County, with none in Josephine County.

“All of that, basically, if you draw a line from Mount Ashland to Shady Cove, everything was east of that line,” Nieuwenuis said. “Nothing in the valley, so to speak.”

Siskiyou County received 257 strikes, with activity recorded Friday and Saturday, Nieuwenhuis said.

The storm prompted ODF to bring on two helicopters to assist with reconnaissance and aid crews with bucket drops if necessary, Weber said. The apparatus will be in the area the next few days.

Reach Mail Tribune web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanpfeil.