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Lightning sparks four Central Oregon fires
Firefighters have the Hampton fire 60 percent contained, while several smaller lightning fires are burning in steep terrain
July 19, 2012
Central Oregon fire season is in full swing, with several fires that started from a lightning storm in the early morning hours on Wednesday.
According to the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center on Thursday morning, the Buck Creek Fire, located 17 miles northeast of Hampton in southern Crook County, is burning on 3,500 acres of grassland. The lightning-sparked fire grew from 1,000 acres on Wednesday to 3,500 acres by nightfall. Firefighters took advantage of cool overnight temperatures and stopped the forward progress of the Buck Creek Fire by Thursday morning.
The fire, burning in light grass and sagebrush, is now 60 percent contained. Fire officials will use their resources to continue securing and improving the perimeter before the heat of the day.
“It’s really light -- there is hardly any juniper out there. It is primarily the grass and sagebrush—so it does move very quickly through those. But it also dies down quickly at night when you get a decrease in temperatures,” said Communications specialist for COIDC Lisa Clark. “Challenges today will be just holding it through the heat of the day, and if we do get thunder storms, often we get winds associated with those. That can really fan up some of those fires burning in the lighter fuels. They will definitely keep an eye out for any hot spots near the line.”
Firefighters are still working on several fires ignited by the lightning storm that passed through Central Oregon Tuesday night, and will continue to look for any new starts over the next several days.
Two additional 20-person crews joined the resources already on scene, bringing the total to four 20-person hand crews, eight engines, a helicopter, and a dozer. Private landowners with the Post-Paulina Rangeland Protection Association also continued providing assistance on this fire.
Two additional wildfires that started Wednesday have smokejumpers and rapellers busy near Mitchell and Paulina. Incident #288 was approximately 30 acres on Thursday, and located in a remote location 10 miles northeast of Mitchell in the Clark Canyon area. Incident #283 is located eight miles southwest of Paulina, on Sulphur Butte, and was 12 acres and 40 percent contained on Thursday morning.
“They are pretty remote areas and we have staffed them with smokejumpers and rapellers,” said Clark. Steep terrain and limited water resources were some of the biggest challenges to firefighters on these two blazes.
Firefighters spent Thursday gearing up for another potential day of lightning. Rising temperatures over the next several days will increase the potential for lightning “holdover” fires, or fires that starts from lightning. These fires can smolder and remain fairly hidden in the roots or the base of a tree until the area dries out.
The Baker Canyon, near Warm Springs, did not grow Wednesday night and remained at 8,309 acres and was 50 percent contained on Thursday morning. Fire crews continued to work on improving the containment line and to keep the fire out of the Trout Creek recreation area. Full containment is expected today.