BEND, OR -- Deschutes National Forest crews are carefully watching for new wildfires, following two days of storm activity across the region. Jean Nelson Dean tells KBND News they logged close to 350 lightning strikes between Sunday night and Monday morning, which resulted in 15-20 fire starts. "We still are actively looking at some of those and most of them have been very small. We do have two that were a little larger: One was a half-acre, three miles northeast of Pine Mountain. And, the other was .7-acres with a few small spots, 12 miles north of Prineville."
Although the storm has passed, she says the wildfire risk remains. "With the lightning, we’re always on the lookout for holdover fires that start after the lightning has passed through the area. A fire starts smoldering and then picks up; so we will be looking for smoke over the next several days."
Crews were strategically placed around the region in advance of the weather pattern to watch for and quickly respond to reports of fire. So far, this fire season has been relatively quiet. But, Nelson Dean says that could change. "We are still seeing a lot of human caused fires, which are challenging because with lightning we do have some prediction for it – we know where they hit, we know where the fires might be. When somebody just lets a campfire go, it can get out of hand fairly quickly. We do still have dry fuels, despite the moisture. We still want to encourage people to put out their campfires." She says the fire season is certain to intensify in early August and into September.