Lightning Sparks Dozens Of Large Oregon Wildfires

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Over the past week, thousands of lightning strikes have sparked more than a dozen large wildfires in Oregon.

For example, five fires are burning around the Warm Springs Reservation. They include the Lionshead Fire, the Green Ridge Fire, and the largest — the P5-15 fire. It has burned about 4,400 acres and is 30% contained.

The P-515 Fire burns on the Warm Springs Reservation on Aug. 21, 2020, approximately 14 miles west of the Warm Springs community. CREDIT: InciWeb

The P-515 Fire burns on the Warm Springs Reservation on Aug. 21, 2020, approximately 14 miles west of the Warm Springs community. CREDIT: InciWeb

Four other blazes are burning along the Blue Mountain range. And farther south, east of Burns, the Indian Creek Fire has consumed almost 50,000 acres.

Northwest Interagency Coordination Center spokesman Randall Rishe said they’re “cold trailing” those fire lines. That means actually touching the ground that’s been dug around the blaze, to see if it’s still hot. “We have currently 20% containment. The way we expand containment is confirming that we have a cold trail along the fire line,” said Rishe.

Firefighters at the Indian Creek Fire are also having to deal with smoke coming from wildfires in California. Rishe said the smoke can help by reducing the amount of oxygen available to the fire. But it can also can keep aircraft from seeing hot spots.

The northwest firefighting region has deployed all seven of its Type-2 incident teams now. Any new large blazes would require bringing in more people and equipment from other regions.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality extended an air quality advisory for parts of Southern, Central and Eastern Oregon due to smoke from wildfires in Oregon and Northern California.

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit opb.org

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