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Firefighters make progress on wildfires in south and central Oregon

 Posted: 7:05 AM July 18, 2013

PORTLAND, Ore. — Firefighters reported "significant progress" Wednesday on a wildfire in Central Oregon, while fire managers looked farther eastward to the potential for wildfires from more than 800 lightning strikes.

Fire officials say crews have drawn lines around the Box Springs fire northeast of Prineville and consider it 50 percent contained, a measure of their confidence the lines will hold. It's burning on about 500 acres of private forest.

In south-central Oregon, state police say U.S. Highway 97 about 16 miles south of Chemult has reopened after a two-hour Wednesday afternoon closure while firefighters controlled a blaze along the east side of the highway. Senior Trooper Joe Smith estimates about 10 acres of private timberland burned.

Jeree Mills, a spokeswoman for the federal fire center in Portland, says 862 lightning strikes were recorded over Tuesday night in Oregon, many in the Blue and Wallowa mountains.

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