Crews Battle Lightning-Caused Fires as Thunderstorms Loom

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Wed, August 7 2013 at 6:03 PM, Updated: Thu, August 8 2013 at 9:10 AM

On top of the wildfires already burning in Southern Oregon, lightning sparked about 16 more fires in the early hours of Wednesday morning as a thunderstorm rolled through.

Officials said crews are working against the clock as another round of storms is expected to move in.

All day Wednesday, Oregon Department of Forestry crews were working fast.

"They literally dash from point to point trying to find the fires," said Brian Ballou, Fire Prevention Specialist with the Oregon Department of Forestry.

He said crews were hurrying to put those fires out.

"The greatest concentration is north of Fish Lake all the way up to the county line with Douglas County. It's extending as far west as Prospect and north of the Lost Creek Reservoir."

About 16 lightning-caused fires were sparked in the early hours of Wednesday morning in Jackson County.

Of those fires, Brian Ballou said the largest burned about four acres in the hills off Cobleigh Road near Butte Falls. Many fire crews had to hike in through rugged terrain.

Ballou also said there were two helicopters in air, one of them working reconnaissance and the other with a water bucket. He said  resources are getting stretched thin. On Wednesday only two men  remained available to fight any new fires that would pop up.

"We're thin but so far we're able to meet the need," said Ballou.

But with more thunderstorms expected to roll in during the course of the week, Ballou said crews are moving as fast as they can to deal with the fires on-hand.

He said he hopes the thunderstorms bring more rain...and less lightning.

Meantime, over in Klamath County, officials said about 20 fires were sparked from roughly 500-lightning strikes.

Brian Ballou said he wants to remind people that while it's permissible to mow a green lawn, there is currently a ban on power equipment like mowers, brush cutters and chain saws. It's because officials want to take no chances, as crews are already busy fighting large and many small fires in the region.

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About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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