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Hundreds of lightning strikes reported overnight

 Posted: 7:50 AM August 07, 2013

Lightning strikes kindled several small fires in northeastern Jackson County overnight into this morning, a small portion of the hundreds of strikes reported across Southern Oregon.

"It's all just starting," said National Weather Service meteorologist Marc Spilde.

Strikes were reported near Shady Cove, Prospect and Crater Lake and in western Klamath County. Northern California also saw several reported strikes.

The Oregon Department of Forestry reported one of the new fires has grown to about four acres in size. Units from ODF and the Butte Falls Fire Department have responded to the fire, reported just before 2 a.m. today in the 2300 block of Cobleigh Road near Butte Falls.

"It doesn't look like it's going to cause us any problems so far," said Brian Ballou, ODF spokesman.

Crews are currently flying reconnaissance to keep looking for new fires, Ballou added, but assessment has been difficult because of the smoke.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for today because of the likelihood of additional thunderstorms that could spark more fires. The warning means "critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now, or will shortly," according to a release issued today.

Weather officials said scattered thunderstorms are likely across the region this afternoon and evening, and should continue into Thursday. Not much rainfall will accompany the storms to start, but more precipitation is expected by Thursday, which could help dilute the smoke.

Several fires already sparked by lightning continue to burn across the region, putting Medford's air quality back in the red because of the smoke spilling into the Rogue Valley. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality's air quality index shows air quality is "unhealthy" for Medford this morning, based on the number of fine particles in the smoke.

The Big Windy Complex in Josephine County has grown to nearly 11,000 acres, according to data from the Incident Information System. The Whiskey Complex outside Tiller has grown to over 8,300 acres. The Douglas Complex near Glendale has grown to over 38,400 acres.

— Ryan Pfeil


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