Applegate Valley residents preparing for lightning-caused fires

Applegate Valley, Ore. — “It’s like… A stick of dynamite going off,” Chuck Birdsong said.

Lightning strikes lit up the Applegate Valley on Sunday forcing people into their homes.

“The lightning was pounding us pretty hard. We were getting strikes 20 feet this way, 50 feet on the other side of the house,” Birdsong said.

Chuck Birdsong lives off of Sterling Creek Road.

He says a tree right outside his house got hit during the storm, knocking bark straight off its trunk and leaving a scar.

Like many places around Southern Oregon, the lightning caused a fire several miles away from his home that ignited just after two Monday afternoon.

“We were able to get to the scene, we identified it, put a wet line around it, and got it out pretty quick,” Fire Captain Jason Allen said.

Thankfully, a Rogue Valley Strike Team was quick to respond, but Birdsong has realized his family needs to have a plan in case another fire starts that isn’t as easy to put out.

“We could have some lightning strikes pop up in the next day or two that are just smoldering right now at the base of a tree,” Fire Captain Allen said.

Birdsong has packed a vehicle full of valuables that aren’t as easy to replace, so his family is ready the next time a fire is close.

“When it’s that close to your house… It’s kind of gut-wrenching I guess I would say,” Birdsong said.

Fire experts say it’s important to be aware of the fire threats around your home.

A lightning strike can spiral down a tree and dig itself into dead leaves.

Then when it heats up, it can smolder itself back into a burning fire.

If you see any smoke, be sure to call 911 right away.

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