A barrage of lightning bolts over the past few nights sparked new wildfires in drought-stricken Southern Oregon.
From July 31 through Aug. 2, lightning caused 47 new fires in Oregon, mostly on the western slopes of the Cascades. According to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center’s most recent tally, new lightning-caused fires have already consumed almost 380 acres, a figure that’s likely to increase.
“That’s probably going to change tomorrow,” says Carol Connolly, a spokesperson for NWCC. “We have some fires that we’re tracking.”
Those numbers don’t include data from today. Last night alone, Oregon saw 1,830 more lightning strikes.
Some of the initial 47 fires that sparked over the weekend were as small as 10 acres, and many have already been put out.
But the lightning caused at least two major fires: the Skyline Ridge Complex and the Big Hamlin near the Umpqua National Forest, both of which ignited on Aug. 1. The Big Hamlin fire is around 100 acres, and Skyline Ridge has spread to an estimated 225 acres.
The stormy weather struck abnormally dry ground. The southern Cascades are experiencing extreme to exceptional drought.
More thunderstorms are possible tomorrow night, bringing a high risk for more fires in southwest Oregon. Thankfully, temperatures are expected to drop over the weekend.