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Klamathon Fire Nears End As Lightning Starts New Fires

<p>Cal Fire crews assist a homeowner who lost his home in Hornbrook, California to the Klamathon Fire.</p>

Courtesy of Cal Fire


Cal Fire crews assist a homeowner who lost his home in Hornbrook, California to the Klamathon Fire.

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 percent contained.

Cal Fire reported new fires, likely from lightning down strikes, 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.

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 5 near Hornbrook, is still listed as "under investigation." There was no lightning in the area at the time.  By Sunday morning, the fire was listed at just over 38,000 acres in size and 95 percent 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.

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Geoffrey Riley is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and has hosted the Jefferson Exchange on JPR since 2009. He's been a broadcaster in the Rogue Valley for more than 35 years, working in both television and radio.