Nearly 40 lightning-caused fires in Jackson and Josephine Counties

APPLEGATE, Ore.– Firefighters are having a busy week with more than 30 lightning-caused fires currently in Jackson and Josephine Counties.

The largest fire is holding steady at 30 acres.

O.D.F. had 50 reports of lightning strikes around Applegate into northern Josephine County Wednesday evening.

So far, they’ve confirmed more than 35 of those reports were actual fires.

O.D.F’s Natalie Weber said, “firefighters worked all night overnight to staff these fires and put out as many as they possibly can.”

In a 13-hour span, O.D.F. firefighters engaged with 39 fires across Jackson and Josephine Counties.

The Lightning Gulch Complex in Josephine County accounts for 34 of those fires.

The Westside Complex in Jackson County makes up the other five.

“We have about 375 firefighters across Jackson and Josephine Counties between our local O.D.F. resources as well as the contract resources that we called in,” Weber said.

The largest of the fires in the Tallowbox Fire south of Applegate.

O.D.F. said the fire was created when two fires merged.

Because of how rural these fires are, Weber said fighting them can be challenging.

“We’ve been utilizing our aircraft as much as we can and calling in additional aircraft for those resources because those are really key in these types of incidents,” she said.

With more thunderstorms in the forecast, O.D.F. is concerned there may be more more lightning-caused fires.

They’re watching all their rural wildfire cameras from their headquarters, looking for smoke.

Right now, firefighters are focused on keeping the fires that have already been discovered, under control.

Weber said, “as fast as we can build a line around it and keep it at that smaller size, that’s our goal, and hopeful to be able to just maintain that through the day.”

She said O.D.F. has already canceled scheduled days off for firefighters to make sure they have enough staff.

She said they will continue to bring in more resources as necessary.

NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
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