Lightning creates multiple starts, including Cemetery Fire in Maury Mountains

State and federal firefighters have spent the last 24 hours responding to more than 24 small lightning starts across Central Oregon caused by a thunderstorm yesterday evening that delivered several hundred lightning strikes across south and central portions of the state.

Every wildfire so far has been kept to one acre or less, except the Cemetery Fire, burning along the northeast border of the Ochoco National Forest’s Maury Mountains and on a privately-owned ranch, about 30 miles southeast of Prineville, Ore. As of this evening the fire size is estimated at 700 acres.

First reported around 1 pm today, the fire quickly grew in the strong afternoon winds, burning in both dry shrub and grass rangelands and climbing into higher elevation timbered areas.

More than 110 personnel are now assigned to the fire, including nine engines and four hand crews. The firefighting effort today was assisted by two heavy air tankers, seven single engine air tankers, four helicopters, and the Post-Paulina Rangeland Fire Protection Association.

A Type 3 incident management team will take command of the incident tomorrow morning at 7 am, and the Prineville Interagency Hotshot Crew is expected to arrive tomorrow, as well.

Temperatures nearing 100 degrees and gusty winds created aggressive fire behavior today, and the same is expected for tomorrow afternoon. A Red Flag Warning is in effect tomorrow starting at 4 pm through Wednesday at 10 pm for high temperatures, low humidities and gusty winds.

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