Fires SE of Oakridge burning in steep, rocky terrain

Fires SE of Oakridge burning in steep, rocky terrain
NASA satellite image from 1 p.m. Sunday, August 3, shows smoke plume from southern Oregon and norther California drifting north/northeast.

OAKRIDGE, Ore. - Crews continue to knock down new lightning fires as they work to get a handle on flames burning southeast of Oakridge.

The Staley Complex is composed of three fires burning in the Willamette National Forest, about 25 miles southeast of Oakridge.

"The steep rocky terrain is punctuated by cliffs and is too dangerous for firefighters to access on the ground," fire managers reported Monday morning. "In the days ahead crews will be working to along the nearest accessible road systems to prepare for an indirect attack operation that will burn out fuels to create secure fireline around the fire. Helicopters are being utilized for bucket drops to slow the progress of the fires."

Even as crews assigned to the Staley Complex perform that work, they've been called upon to run down and extinguish multiple small lightning fires.

That's been the case further east in Central Oregon, too, where firefighters have responded to 150 since July 28.

Fire managers said the majority of those fires were started by lightning.

Lighting fires can take several days to begin putting up visible smoke.

Once a fire gets going, the smoke can be visible for hundreds of miles.

The skies over Eugene turned a hazy shade over the weekend thanks to the Oregon Gulch Fire in the Beaver Complex near Klamath Falls and other southwest Oregon and northern California fires.

Local monitors haven't shown degraded air quality, but the smoke is visible both from the ground and space.