Firefighters prepare for lightning storm

JACKSON CO., Ore – With lightning in the forecast, firefighters are on high alert. This all happening just days after two lightning fires sparked in the Applegate Valley.

Local fire departments are bringing in extra crews and equipment just in case. Several fires have already popped up in Southern Oregon.

“Lightning is going to be hitting all over the place,” Greg Gilbert, Applegate Valley Fire District, said.

Applegate Valley Fire District has had a busy week. After responding to two fires caused by lightning Sunday they’ve been preparing for more. Now, a new storm has arrived.

Applegate Fire says they are adding equipment and firefighters.

“We have two engines and a water tender staffed and ready to go,” Gilbert said.

They’re not alone. ODF has already brought in staff normally off today. It’s also bringing in two heavy helicopters and a dozer.

“Anytime we have a real chance of some good thunder storms, we will bring all of our staff on,” Natalie Weber, ODF, said.

National Weather Service data going back 30 years shows August 6 through 12 sees more lightning than any other week. That’s why ODF’s detection center will be staffed and on the lookout for smoke.

“The biggest difference between a human-caused fire and a lightning fire is lightning fires tend to be in more remote locations,” Weber said.

That’s why responding to them quickly and with the appropriate resources is so important.

“That’s how some of these lightning fires get away and become really big just because it takes so long to get there. Sometimes we are creating our own road system to get to the fire to fight it,” Weber said.

With lightning caused fires sometimes taking weeks to spark after a strike the work will continue long after this weekend. Firefighters are asking if you see any fires or smoke, to call 911.

Anna Weeks is the anchor of NBC5 News at 5 and 11 and Your Place @7 with Anna Weeks. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Oregon State University with a degree in Digital Communication Arts and a minor in writing. Previously, she interned with the National Association of Broadcasters at the NAB Show in Las Vegas. Originally from the Portland area, Anna loves exploring Southern Oregon. In her free time, she enjoys reading, running, and watching sports.
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