Firefighters attack dozens of small wildfires after lightning

LAKEVIEW, Ore. - Lightning peppered Southern Oregon this week, zapping the region with 1,906 bolts in 24 hours Tuesday and Wednesday.

Firefighters have responded to 34 confirmed fires in the South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership area since July 1, with three new fires being reported since midnight Thursday, July 3.

The largest of the fires detected through 11 p.m. July 2 was contained at 2 acres, the USDA Forest Service said.

Most of the lightning-caused fires were less than 1/10th acre in size.

In Central Oregon, firefighters are looking for new ignitions after 3,000 lightning strikes raked the region Wednesday. As of 6 p.m., 29 new wildfires had been reported. All but two of the fires have been contained at less than 2/10ths of an acre.

One of the fires burning near Lava Butte is partially contained by a natural firebreak: lava. Land managers there say the fire is being allowed to burn and managed for ecological benefit in the fire-adapted ecosystem.

The Kipuka Fire continues to burn 1 mile southwest of Lava Butte Lookout in the Newberry National Monument in a 30-acre island of vegetation completely surrounded by lava rock. The fire is 7 acres and is being managed to benefit the ponderosa pine ecosystem. The low-intensity fire is burning through downed wood, duff and needles. The fire occasionally torches single trees, which creates small openings that promote new growth. Local residents could expect to see smoke from this fire for several days.

Firefighters have also responded to a range fire approximately 2 miles south of Antelope. The Camp Creek Fire (Incident #219) was reported just before 3 p.m. today and grew quickly to 700 acres. The town of Antelope is not threatened at this time. The fire is burning in scattered juniper, sagebrush and grass.

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