Last night, abundant dry lightning strikes occurred across SW Oregon with very little to no precipitation. In response, firefighting resources are pre-positioning for patrolling and response to new lightning-caused fire starts across the Rogue Rover-Siskiyou National Forest. A Red Flag Warning is in effect for abundant lightning activity through 11 p.m. tonight.
Increasing thunderstorm activity will create erratic fire behavior and new starts in Curry, Josephine, and Jackson Counties. Scattered thunderstorms this morning will start to diminish, then become scattered again this afternoon and evening. Gusty winds from 40-50 mph will be possible with the stronger thunderstorms. Some of the storms will produce moderate to heavy rainfall. Abundant lighting on existing very dry fuels could cause numerous fire ignitions. Gusty and erratic winds could also create explosive fire growth potential.
“We are aggressively pre-positioning our available firefighting resources for quick response to new fire starts,” said Dan Quinones, Deputy Fire Staff & Aviation Officer.
One new lightning-start has been detected on the Gold Beach Ranger District that is located on the border with Coos Forest Protection Lands. The new start is three miles SE of Three Tree Campground.
The Merlin Helibase has two medium helicopters, one rappel aircraft (John Day) and one helitack platform (Lakeview). Two fixed wing aircraft are available for aerial reconnaissance as of 0830 this morning. In addition, a heavy helicopter has been ordered from LaGrande.
In the Siskiyou Mountains, one engine is available for patrol and response. In addition, the Winema Hotshots are scheduled to be assigned to the area this afternoon after being released from the Red Dog Fire.
In the Prospect/Butte Falls area, in addition to the normal staffing of firefighting resources, a task force of engines and hand crews are pre-positioned for response. This includes 5 engines, one 20-person initial attack crew and several overhead leadership positions. Additional resources are being ordered.
In the Gold Beach area, a 15-person hand crew and engine is available for patrol/response, and in the Powers area, an engine and a prevention unit are also available, in addition to the increase air reconnaissance and air support that is being provided across the forest.
Firefighting resources will be moved and reassigned across the forest as new starts are detected and priorities change, utilizing information from lightning strike detection maps, aerial reconnaissance and smoke reports.