EUGENE, Ore. - Even with coolor temperatures in the valley, lightning Wednesday afternoon touched off a new round of forest fires in the Oregon Cascades as firefighters continue to battle the blazes ignited by lightning last week.
Andy Bryant of the National Weather Service in Portland said the number of overnight lightning strikes was dramatic.
“There were about 1,700 in the state, he said. “At least 1,000 were in central Oregon from Crater Lake up through Bend and the Cascades.”
New fires started on the Willamette, Deschutes and Umpqua national forests.
One blaze in the headwaters of the Middle Fork Willamette River near Timpanogas Lake quickly grew to 15 acres, the Willamette National Forest said.
Crews responded immediately, and a helicopter dropped water until evening fell.
Crews from the Middle Fork Ranger District were back out there this morning. Travelers on Forest Service Road 2154 in the vicinity of Opal and Timpanogas Lakes will likely experience delays as firefighting personnel will guide vehicles through the area.
Campers at Timpanogas Lake and hikers on nearby trails should remain alert to changing conditions. There are no closures as of 8 a.m. August 1, but conditions could change should the fire become more active, the Forest Service said.
A helicopter is likely to continue dipping water from lakes in the area. Visitors should stay well clear of firefighting operations for the safety of themselves and the fire fighters, the Forest Service said.
Fifteen ‘smoke reports’ were called into the Eugene Interagency Dispatch office Wednesday night, the majority of them in the Three Sisters Wilderness, the Forest Service said.
Eight smokejumpers are working on a fire near Sims Butte; early reports suggest they may be able to contain that fire.
More smokejumpers will be used Thursday to extinguish fires in that area.
Umpqua National Forest
Lightning started 2 fires on the Diamond Lake Ranger District of the Umpqua National Forest. Both fires are a fraction of an acre.
The Pop-Out Fire is 2 miles south of Cinnamon Butte Lookout and is staffed by initial attack firefighters.
An initial attack crew is en-route to the other fire, located 7 miles southwest of Cinnamon Butte, the Forest Service said.
With more lightning in the forecast, ground and air resources are in position to attack new fires, the Forest Service said.
Crews are chasing smoke reports and responding to dozens of fires in Central Oregon.
In one of the larger incidents, airtankers dropped retardant and engines and crews responded to a fire, approximately 5 miles northeast of Sisters that threatened structures in the Squaw Creek Canyon Estates on private, state-protected lands.
By 6:30 p.m. the crews had put dozer line completely around the fire. Crews continue to staff the fire Thursday to strengthen line around the fire.
A fire on Green Ridge in the Sisters Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest forced the evacuation of Lower Bridge Campground for public safety. The fire is not threatening the campground, the Forest Service said. However, a helicopter making bucket drops on the fire needs to work in the area and people are being evacuated to allow the helicopter to work safely.
By Thursday morning, 48 incidents had been responded to following the lightning. Of those, 17 fires continue to burn.
- 5 small fires on Little Round Top Mountain on the border of the Willamette National Forest and the Deschutes National Forest.
- 2 fires west of Cultus Mountain
- 1 fire NE of Odell Butte
- 1 fire one mile NE of the Junction of the Forest Roads 46 and 41
- 4 small fires north of Suttle Lake
- 2 fire 2 miles NE of Trout Creek Butte
- 1 fire on Green Ridge
- 1 fire 2 miles north of the junction of Forest Roads 22 and 23