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Forest Service Preps For Lightning This Week

Daniel Torok / USFS

Weather forecasters are expecting lightning later this week in southwest Oregon, and lightning usually means wildfires.

Thunderstorms will bring the Rogue Valley a much needed cool-off from a stretch of hot days. But the Forest Service isn’t as excited about the storms. Next to humans, lightning is the second largest cause of wildfires in the state. These storms can bring with them lots of new fire starts on public lands.

Eric Hensel is with the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. He says that actually, most fires don’t grow very big.

"As an agency we’re 98 percent effective in suppressing all of our new starts, wildfires that are human caused or lightning caused," he says, "And you know, only the 2 percent or less of those fires are the fires that end up being big complex fires."

Still, the Forest Service is bringing in emergency federal funds to triple the amount of equipment and firefighters. Land managers have been under increasing public pressure to prevent the kind of weeks-long smoke events that have marred recent summers.

The storms are expected to continue through Sunday.