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Crews Monitor Fires Caused by Lightning

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DEXTER, Ore. — Fire crews say with the weather calming down, the fire danger isn’t as severe.

But, we’re not out of the woods just yet.

The Willamette National Forest and Springfield Oregon Department of Forestry offices watching more than 80 fires. And while most have been lined and contained, that doesn’t mean they’re all out just yet.

There were 400-500 strikes near the McKenzie Bridge and Oakridge areas Sunday night alone.

“As a result of that storm Sunday evening, as well as some strikes that occurred into Monday, we have picked up so far 70 fires to date,” said Judith McHugh, Willamette National Forest Public Affairs Officer.

Crews say nearby communities have been kept out of harm’s way, thanks in part to the recent rains, which have increased humidity, but they’ll continue to keep a close watch for weeks to come.

“We are predicted to go back into a warming and drying trend, and we do anticipate that more fires will pop up from the lightning we saw earlier this week,” McHugh said.

ODF says their 14 fires are also under control. The largest, the Dexter Fire, is now fully contained, but they won’t stop patrols anytime soon.

“We’re still in preparedness level five in the Northwest, which means a lot of resources are tied up in the Northwest. And so just like the forest service, we’ll be monitoring basically until the fall rains come,” said Matt Thomas, wildland supervisor.

Because of those limited resources, staff from the Springfield office were sent to other parts of the state to help fight other fires before the lightning storms hit.

Everyone has since returned for a chance to rest before we start to see more summerlike temperatures.

“We’re able to get some crews some extra rest here, and there when we can. And as we wind down, we’ll get some guys some more rest that’s for sure. Morale is high,” Thomas said.

None of the fires have impacted nearby structures. Staff with the Willamette National Forest say their recreation access has been unaffected, and they’re encouraging the public to report any potential fires to keep it that way.

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