Wildfire sparks in hills near Central Point

, Written by Jennifer Elliott, Posted: Mon, July 28 2014 at 3:38 PM, Updated: Mon, July 28 2014 at 5:20 PM

Central Point, Ore. -- A wildfire in the hills above Central Point has Oregon Department of Forestry crews in overdrive this morning.

Helicopter after helicopter drops water on a fire in the hills above Central Point. "We heard the helicopters, it sounded like they were in our backyard," says Clint Burton. He lives in one of the last homes on Kane Creek Road in rural Central Point.

He's not the only one who noticed a wildfire in the mountains above his home Monday morning, across the valley residents could see the tell tale signs of a small plume of smoke. "I saw it at 6:30 as I was driving down the hill in East Medford," says Oregon Department of Forestry spokesman Brian Ballou. He says this fire was started by lightning.

Last week's thunderstorms caused 38 lightning fires. This one the largest, at 2 acres. Ballou says it smoldered for several days... before popping up. The lighting even left a signature. "When it hits a tree it makes a spiral cut from the top of the tree to the bottom," says Ballou.

The difficult terrain coupled with dry conditions --- often make lightning fires among the toughest to fight. Some department trucks couldn't make it to the top... crews had to hike in with all of their equipment. We couldn't make it to the ridgeline, without the proper equipment.

Forecasted thunderstorms this week have firefighters prepping for a busy end of the month. "We're dug in for the long haul. What caused all the problems last year was a dry lightning storm. that could occur again, we don't know," says Ballou.

While crews mopped up the Kane Creek fire quickly, it only takes one lightning strike to spark another, so crews remain at the ready.

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About the Author

Jennifer Elliott

NBC5 News at Sunrise co-anchor Jennifer Elliott spent most of her life in the Rogue Valley.

After graduating from Brigham Young University–Idaho, she was excited to come home again. Jennifer began her career at NBC5 in 2011 as a production assistant.

Her loves include drawing, playing the organ, fishing and of course, her husband and young son.

Catch Jennifer co-anchoring with Travis Koch weekdays on NBC 5 News at Sunrise starting at 5:30am.

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