Thunderstorms Bring Abundant Lightning and New Fire Starts

58 new fire starts in Central Oregon, multiple management strategies in use

Central Oregon — Thunderstorms last night delivered more than 600 lightning strikes across Central Oregon, and started at least 58 new wildfires since yesterday morning. Through quick response and suppression efforts, firefighters have kept all but one of the new fire starts at less than an acre. The Glass Buttes Fire, a grass fire 85 miles east of Bend on Prineville BLM, is now estimated at 30 acres.

Multiple local and assisting agency resources are fanned out across Central Oregon suppressing new starts today, assisted by the heavy precipitation received last night in many areas across the region. Multiple aviation resources are standing by at the Redmond Air Center and Prineville Helibase to assist with suppression efforts, including helicopters, rappellers, air tankers, and smokejumpers. Fire managers will use aircraft throughout the day today to continue searching for more lightning starts.

One new lightning start detected yesterday, September 5, on the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District of Deschutes National Forest, called Incident 876, is currently 1/10th acre in size and burning in a 33-acre kipuka (a forested area completely surrounded by lava flows). Fire managers have assessed the burn potential and the risk to public and firefighter safety in suppressing this fire, and have determined that the best course of action is to monitor and confine the fire within the boundary of the lava flows. Continued monitoring and reassessments will take place until the fire is determined out.

On Ochoco National Forest, the 5,072-acre Canyon 66 prescribed burn received substantial rain, which helped to dampen interior burning. While all ignitions are complete, firefighters remain on scene today to mitigate hazards and mop up along the unit perimeter. Forest Service Road 22 is reopened to the public, but motorists may encounter firefighters and heavy equipment working along the road. Some smoldering and smoke will continue today and through the weekend.

A slight chance of more thunderstorms with lightning and rain is forecast through the weekend, and fire managers expect to discover more lightning starts over the coming days. Fire resources will continue to patrol, detect, and suppress wildfires to the best of their ability, managing fatigue and workload appropriately.

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