Lightning strikes hit Southern Oregon hard

Thunderstorms shot out between 2,000 and 2,500 lightning strikes across Southern Oregon Wednesday afternoon and night, with about 850 touching down in Jackson County.

The National Weather Service reported more are likely on the way today, and have issued the third red flag warning in a row for this week. The warning, issued because of the lightning, dry terrain, and a 102-degree predicted high temperature, will be in effect from 2 to 11 p.m. today. It covers the Southern Oregon Cascades, Siskiyou Mountains, eastern Rogue Valley, Umpqua National Forest, and Fremont-Winema National Forest.

Weather officials said there's also a chance of scattered rain showers today. Starting at 10 a.m., there is a 20 percent chance of precipitation across Jackson County. That chance increases to about 40 percent by the afternoon hours.

Numerous lightning-sparked fires have been reported across the region the last two days, including 34 that flared up in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

Of that number, 28 were reported in the High Cascades Ranger District, according to U.S. Forest Service spokesman Paul Galloway. The largest of those fires is the Camp Creek Fire, located near the Rustler Lookout east of Lost Creek Lake, reported to be about 10 to 15 acres in size. Engines, hand crews and a helicopter are beating back the flames. The remaining fires are less than an acre in size.

The additional six fires reported in the Siskiyou Mountains District are near or within the Ashland watershed. All are less than an acre in size. Hand crews and engines continue to fight those fires.

Additional fire starts have been reported at Mt. Ashland, Anderson Butte, and Springnett Butte, north of Gold Hill. The status of containment efforts on the fires was not immediately available.

Firefighters continue to perform mop-up work at the 232-acre Reeves Creek Fire southwest of Grants Pass, which had a full containment line drawn around it Wednesday but was only considered 50 percent contained because of the looming storms.

The 100-acre Launch Fire, burning at Four Mile Lake, also has a full containment line around the fire. The blaze has been determined to be human-caused, according to the Incident Information System website.

The 25-acre lightning-sparked Pumice Flat Fire, located at Crater Lake National Park's southern boundary, was considered 75 percent contained Wednesday afternoon.

— Ryan Pfeil

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