Fire officials on the lookout for lightning

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Tue, July 8 2014 at 4:09 PM, Updated: Tue, July 8 2014 at 7:01 PM

Medford, Ore. -- Fire season is in full swing and there's concern as storms brew in our area. The possibility of lightning, brings a very real threat.

Brian Ballou, the Fire Prevention Specialist at the Oregon Department of Forestry said most fires are human-caused, but lightning tends to cause the largest fires in our area.

Ballou said the Oregon Department of Forestry is equipped and ready to respond if lightning-caused fires break out in Southern Oregon.

"We have all of our engines staffed up, we have people up in lookout towers, lightning tracking software is tracking," said Ballou.

"We're expecting some thunderstorms especially from the mountains to the eastside and down into Northern California, but even here in the Rogue Valley," said Ryan Sandler with the National Weather Service.

Ballou said not only is lightning a concern because bolts usually cause the biggest fires, but sometimes they strike in remote, forested areas that are hard to access.

"It's a matter of numbers, how many strikes cause fires, how many firefighters we got. We got to make sure we don't get outnumbered," Ballou explained.

For now, those who help fight wildfires are watching and waiting.

"How it plays out, we don't know," said Ballou.

He and others, hoping the roughly 100 people at ODF assigned to help fight fires won't have to jump into action quite yet.

Sandler said on Wednesday, the fire weather watch is expected to continue on the east side of the Cascades and the Siskiyous.

There may also be more chances for thunderstorms over the weekend.

Stay with NBC 5 News for updates on weather and the 2014 fire season.

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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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