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Fire crews continue work on lightning-sparked blazes

 Posted: 10:30 AM May 06, 2013

Wildland firefighters are busy mopping up more than a dozen wildfires sparked by a lightning storm that rumbled through Jackson and Josephine counties Sunday evening.

"They are not burning with great deal of intensity," said Brian Ballou, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Forestry's Southwest Oregon District, which covers the two counties.

"But spring fires usually start popping up in late May," he added. "To have them come in the first part of May is definitely unusual. We have found 13 so far but we expect to find others."

The largest blaze covers about five acres in the Elk Creek drainage just north of Trail, he said.

"It burned pretty good when it was in brush and grass but when it hit the shadowy forest area, it just laid down," he said. "Most of the fires we have are small. Some are no more than a single tree."

While Jackson and Josephine county fared better than Douglas and Lane counties and Central Oregon where the fires were larger and more numerous, local firefighters are gearing up for an early fire season, he said.

"If we don't get much rain out of this weather pattern, then we will be looking at fire season starting soon, perhaps by this weekend or earlier," he warned. "It could be a long, hot summer with the potential for large fires throughout the region."

Local residents are being urged to be extra cautious with any activity that could spark a wildfire.

— Paul Fattig

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