Crews scramble after thousands of lightning strikes set Oregon on fire

Crews scramble after thousands of lightning strikes set Oregon on fire
Flames on the Moccasin Fire, north of Sprague River, Oregon.

EUGENE, Ore. - Thousands of lightning strikes set forests and brush on fire across Oregon, sending firefighters scrambling to contain the blazes on the Willamette National Forest and in Central Oregon.

In Southern Oregon, 6 homes have been lost and residents evacuated due to a fast-moving fire.

A confirmed 6 homes and 14 structures have been destroyed by fire in the Moccasin Hill fire near Sprague River in a rural subdivision north of the town, the South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership said Monday.

At least 100 people evacuated Sunday as the flames spread.

The fire grew rapidly Sunday, from approximately 70 acres upon first detection to an estimated 2,900 acres early Monday morning.

Firefighters said they're facing a crown fire running and spotting through timber amidst hot, dry conditions.

They are also calling for resources to help: As of 10:43 p.m. Sunday, only 73 people were working to fight the fire. Updated figures for Monday were not yet available as of 11 a.m.

The cause of the Mocassin Fire is under investigation.


Willamette National Forest

Further north on the Willamette National Forest, firefighters are responding to reports of over 65 lightning-sparked fires from storms that crossed over the Cascade Range.

Most of the fires are small, ranging from a single burning tree to less than ¼ acre in size, the USDA Forest Service said. The Willamette National Forest is headquartered in Eugene.

Approximately 35 signs of smokes were reported at various locations throughout the Detroit Ranger District, with 8 of those in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness.

The largest fire is located in the Mt Jefferson Wilderness on Bingham Ridge, about 5 miles east of Marion Forks. The fire is approximately 75 acres, and is burning in insect-killed trees in a steep, forested area.

A second wilderness fire is 25 acres, burning near Lizard Ridge.

Smokejumpers and hotshot crews are working to contain these fires, the Forest Service said.

Detroit-area firefighters are also working on a small fire located 2 miles southeast of Marion Forks near the boundary of the Mount Jefferson Wilderness, as well as 4 small fires located within a few miles of the Breitenbush area.

Firefighters are also responding to approximately 30 smoke reports spread across the southern portion of the Willamette National Forest.

Of those 30 reports, firefighters have confirmed more than 10 fires; all are single trees or less than ¼ acre in size.

“Quick detection and response are essential to help keep these fires small, especially given the hot and dry weather forecasted for the week ahead,” said Sean Stafford, Fire Staff Officer for the Willamette National Forest. “This kicks off our fire season, and we’re ready.”


Central Oregon

Firefighters in Central Oregon have engaged a range of small to medium sized fires.
 
The Cabin Lake fire, located 4 miles northeast of Cabin Lake, remains the largest fire coming from the lightning. It  is approximately 70 acres. Containment lines around the fire held through the evening, but additional crews are responding to reinforce the fire lines.
 
The Bridge 99 fire near Camp Sherman is also receiving additional resources Monday, the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch said. The fire is approximately 2 acres but is in steep terrain in the Green Ridge area of the Sisters Ranger District. 

Campers in Lower Bridge Campground and Pioneer Ford campground are being asked to relocate, although the fire is not currently threatening those campgrounds, fire managers said.

The Maury Mountains, near Prineville, had many reports of small fires, as did the Lookout Mountain area.