Fires From Sunday Lightning Keep Crews Busy On Monday
Summer lightning returned to the skies over Southern Oregon and Northern California on Sunday, just as Klamathon Fire managers were preparing to declare that fire 100% contained.Cal Fire reported new fires from lightning downstrikes in Siskiyou County. The Steamboat Fire in the Shasta Valley Wildlife Area near Montague quickly spread to dozens of acres. Officials closed the wildlife area to the public.
The Oregon Department of Forestry reported more than 40 confirmed fires in Jackson and Josephine Counties. The Sterling Creek Fire near Jacksonville reached roughly 100 acres by evening (6:45 PM), and the county sheriff's office ordered level 3 ("Go") evacuations along Sterling Creek Road.
Ground crews and aircraft also worked the Green Top Mountain Fire near Eagle Point. By nightfall Sunday it had grown to roughly 100 acres, with no structures threatened. Another Jackson County fire occupied crews at Hells Peak. ODF reported more than a dozen lightning-caused fires in Josephine County, none larger than five acres when crews reached them.
Heavy downpours accompanied the lightning in the Rogue Valley and elsewhere. But the National Weather Service, in a red flag warning for both sides of the state line, pointed out that lightning-caused fires can still spread quickly in very dry brush and timber, even after a rainfall.
The cause of the Klamathon Fire, which started July 5th near Hornbrook, is still listed as "under investigation." There was no lightning in the area at the time. By Sunday evening (July 15th), the fire was listed at just over 38,000 acres in size and 95% contained. During its early rapid run, the fire destroyed 82 structures, including more than 30 homes, most in the Hornbrook area. One man died in Hornbrook while preparing to evacuate.
The lightning and new fire activity came in the middle of a run of days of triple-digit temperatures for the region. The Weather Service adjusted Sunday's expected high for Medford to 99 degrees, but highs at 100 or above are expected at least through Wednesday.