Storm brings rain, lightning - and new fires

Higher humidity keeps fire activity down

By KTVZ.COM news sources
POSTED: 9:47 PM PDT August 24, 2013    UPDATED: 1:55 AM PDT August 25, 2013 
Rain from Pilot Butte Judd Weld
BEND, Ore. -

The thunderstorms of late summer continued to roll north through the High Desert Saturday afternoon and evening, bringing heavy rain in spots, dramatic sunset views -- and a return of new wildfires.

Despite significant rain accompanying the storms, crews were working on five lightning-related fires around the area Saturday evening, according to the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center in Prineville.

Fortunately, the rain and higher humidity meant firefighters arriving on scene were reporting minimal fire behavior, the center reported.

A few remote fires were not staffed Saturday evening due to heavy rain and poor visibility, but officials said crews would respond to these remote fires first thing Sunday morning.

Bend's north end had a major downpour late Saturday afternoon, and Redmond and Prineville residents reported much the same on NewsChannel 21's Facebook page, as did Alfalfa-area residents.

Even with recent rain, the area's fire danger remains high, COIDC said.

The nation is at Preparedness Level 5, meaning there is a high demand for firefighter resources due to active fires throughout the West.  The long-range weather forecast predicts above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation.  Please follow all campfire restrictions and county or city burning regulations.

Crews also continue to respond to abandoned campfires outside hosted and developed campgrounds.  Please remember the public use restrictions continue on all open fires, including charcoal fires on the Prineville District of the Bureau of Land Management, the Deschutes National Forest and the Crooked River National Grasslands.

Campfires are prohibited except in hosted and developed campgrounds. A list is available on either of these two web sites http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/centraloregon/fire/ or http://www.blm.gov/or/districts/prineville/index.php. These restrictions do not apply to affected Wilderness areas on the Deschutes National Forest.

For public and firefighter safety the area forest closure is still in effect within the Green Ridge fire boundary near Camp Sherman, and roads within the fire perimeter remain closed to public travel. For details and updates, please visit the Deschutes National Forest web site http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/centraloregon/alerts-notices

The National Weather Service has issued a fire weather watch and red flag warning for the threat of more storms and lightning in Central Oregon through Sunday night.