ODF on alert for new fires sparked by lightning

Jackson Co., Ore. — With lightning in the forecast on Thursday, fire crews around the region are on edge, on the look out for any sign of a spark. At the Oregon Department of Forestry headquarters, it was all hands on deck, and all engines out in the field.

“People are gearing up for a difficult and strenuous day,” Public Information Officer Melissa Cano said.

The fire agency’s dispatch center took calls all day of reported smoke or fires. Those reports are directly sent out to crews on the ground to investigate.

“Our engines have gone on over 800 calls just this summer,” Cano said.

Lightning in the forecast on Thursday only added to that number.

“There were several calls today that were just reports of smoke, that turned into nothing,” Cano said. “And quite frankly, that’s how we like them.”

NBC5 News was able to go out to one of those calls. At the time, crews were sent out for a reported plume of smoke in rural Eagle Point. After getting out and searching the area, firefighters were able to confirm a new fire hadn’t been sparked.

“But we rather take that call and guarantee that it is not a fire, than not receive a call at all,” Cano said. “Our firefighters are out there, canceling their day off, making sure they’re there and fully staffed, all throughout Jackson and Josephine counties, at all hours of the day and night, and it’s because we want to make sure we keep those fires small so they don’t impact others.”

ODF crews were called out to around twelve new fires in a 24 hour period. Nearly all of them were contained before reaching an acre.

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