BEND, Ore. - The fourth straight day of thunderstorms peppered Central Oregon with about 1,350 lightning strikes and five new fire starts by early Wednesday evening, the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center in Prineville reported.
Once again, all of the new fires were tackled by initial-attack crews and kept to less than an acre, officials said. La Pine, for a second day, was hit with heavy hail that piled up inches deep and caused minor flooding and tricky travel for many.
Few reports came in of any new fire starts Wednesday night or Thursday morning, officials said.
Meanwhile, the Type 3 team on the Muskrat Fire northwest of Cultus Lake has transferred command of the fire back to the Deschutes National Forest, amid more signs of progress. The 50-acre blaze isnow 75 percent contained, and Six Lakes Trailhead is no longer being used as the incident command post and has reopened to the public.
As of 8 a.m. Thursday, the emergency area closure enacted by the Forest Service near the blaze was reduced, officials said. Little and Big Cove boat-in campgrounds and other boat-in sites along the north shore of Cultus Lake are open once again The Winopee Lake Trail from the Winopee Lake Trailhead near Cultus Campground to the junction with the Corral Swamp/Metolius-Windigo Trail is also now open.
West Cultus boat-in Campground, as well as areas and trails surrounding the Muskrat Fire remain closed to provide for public and firefighter safety during mop-up, rehabilitation and demobilization of fire equipment, as much of this work will require delivery and removal of resources via helicopter, officials said.
On Tuesday, there were more than 28,000 strikes across the Northwest from the latest round of thunderstorms in a long string of them this summer. But fortunately, most areas were getting enough rain from the storms to significantly reduce the threat of new fire starts, officials said Wednesday.
Parts of the region received nearly an inch of rain while other areas saw only a trace, officials said. A red flag warning issued by the National Weather Service is in effect until 11 p.m. Wednesday.
In Central Oregon, lightning from Tuesday's storms has brought 30 to 40 fire starts, all small in size and managed quickly with local resources in place.
To the east, the South Fork Complex is located 5 miles south of Dayville around the south fork of the John Day River. The fire is burning in a mix of private, BLM, Forest Service and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife managed lands. There are numerous evacuations and closures in place due to fire activity for both fires. The fire information number for this incident is 866-347-0636 or find the most recent closures and announcements at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4042/.
Tuesday's storms brought over 7,000 lightning strikes to the center of Oregon, from northern Klamath County to the Gorge.
A power outage that affected some 43,000 Pacific Power customers in the Bend area for 10 minutes Tuesday afternoon also may have been weather-related -- along with several brief power hits in the Bend area Wednesday afternoon.
Pacific Power spokesman Tom Gauntt said a transmission outage caused the power to go off across the city around 2:55 p.m. Tuesday and it was restored about 10 minutes later.
Power coming into the Pilot Butte substation in northeast Bend was interrupted, forcing crews to reroute to a different source while the case was investigated, Gauntt said.
Central Electric Cooperative also has had nearly a dozen weather-related outages affecting two to six customers at a time, for 1-3 hours, said Member Services Director Jeff Beaman.
Earlier, initial attack crews tackled a small new fire was Tuesday morning near Foley Butte, southeast of Madras.
Monday's storms were accompanied by nearly 2,000 lightning strikes - one that struck a Bend duplex, and the new fires were being caught fast and small, officials said.
Monday evening's storms were tracking farther east than Sundays, with the most lightning and fire starts east of the Badlands Wilderness Area east of Bend,
The temperature at Bend Airport plummeted 27 degrees in just two hours as the storms rolled through. It was at 93 degrees at 5:15 p.m. -- and dropped to 66 at 7:15. Drivers on Highway 97 north of Bend reported dime-sized hail as the storms hit.
An earlier round of thunderstorms peppered Central Oregon with about 1,800 lightning strikes Sunday, sparking several small fires that crews also tackled quickly.
For more information, visit the Central Oregon Fire Information site at:
Get the latest on these and other large Oregon wildfires from InciWeb at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/state/38/
Here's Thursday's Oregon Department of Forestry update on fires burning around the state:
>LARGE FIRES WITHIN ODF PROTECTION
>NEW LARGE FIRES
There are no new large fires to report in the past 24 hours.
(Evacuations are based on a Level 1-2-3 system corresponding to Ready-Set-Go, with Level 1 being the lowest)
Rain and cooler temperatures have moderated fire temperature slightly this week.
? Rogue River Drive: located near Shady Cove in Jackson County (15 miles north of Medford), currently at 600-700 acres. Evacuation levels have lessened, with all affected areas now at a level 1 (get ready) evacuation notice status. The threat to structures has lessened enough to demobilize local task forces. No structures have been lost. More information: ODF Medford Unit 541-664-3328 | Twitter - www.twitter.com/swofire/ | Southwest Oregon District Blog - http://www.swofire.com/ | NWCC - www.nwccweb.us/information/firemap.aspx
? 5 Mile Fire: a 4,524 acre fire is 90% contained. It started Aug. 3 about 2 miles south of Imnaha. More information: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4048/ | Information Contact Number: 541-432-0119.
? Broady Creek: started Tuesday, this fire is located in steep inaccessible terrain within Joseph Canyon on ODF protected lands. The fire is staffed with rappellers and smoke jumpers, and has been boxed in with retardant. At this time the fire is estimated at 20 acres, resources have checked the spread and are continuing mop-up operations.
? South Fork Complex (partially on ODF protected lands): these July 31 lightning caused fires cover 64,767 acres and are 40% contained. A closure is in place on the Malheur and Ochoco National Forests surrounding the fires. More information: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4042/ | Fire Information Office Phone: 1-866-347-0636 www.southforkcomplex.blogspot.com | email@example.com
? Rowena Fire: This is the last update for the Rowena Fire. A 3,680 acre fire that started August 5, and is 100% contained. More Information: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4061/ | Fire Info Hotlines: ODF The Dalles Unit Office 541-296-4626 | Twitter: @RowenaFire2014 | Facebook: www.facebook.com/RowenaFire2014 | Register for Wasco County Sheriff's Office Citizen Alert Emergency Notification Program: www.co.wasco.or.us
>FIRES ON OTHER JURISDICTIONS IN OREGON
More information on these fires can be found at: http://nwccweb.us/index.aspx and http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/
Due to heavy firefighting activity our fire statistics have not been updated. They will return when the database has been made current. Statewide air quality index readings are available at http://www.deq.state.or.us/aqi/index.aspx.
>OTHER FIRE INFORMATION
ODF maintains a blog at http://wildfireoregondeptofforestry.blogspot.com/, which includes comprehensive breaking news on wildfires statewide, along with current fire statistics, and a frequently updated Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/ORDeptForestry. For information on wildfires in other jurisdictions within Oregon, go to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center website, http://www.nwccweb.us/ and to the national Incident Information System website at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/. Statewide air quality index readings are available at http://www.deq.state.or.us/aqi/index.aspx.