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DailyTidings.com
  • Wildfire start count jumps to almost 30

  • Tuesday's fierce lightning storm that shot out hundreds of air-to-ground strikes by the evening hours started 29 wildfires in Jackson and Josephine counties.
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  • Tuesday's fierce lightning storm that shot out hundreds of air-to-ground strikes by the evening hours started 29 wildfires in Jackson and Josephine counties.
    The Oregon Department of Forestry's Southwest Oregon District reported the largest of these blazes has grown to one and a half acres at Murphy Gulch, about five miles east of Wimer. There is another half-acre fire in the Sardine Creek drainage and a one-quarter acre fire about three miles southwest of Ruch.
    The other 26 starts have not yet exceeded one-tenth of an acre, including two up Grizzly Peak.
    "I don't think it's a record, but we've got our hands full," said ODF spokesman Brian Ballou.
    ODF lookouts across the district are staffed today, and firefighters will be running reconnaissance flights today to look for more smoke. Crews will continue drawing lines around the reported fire starts to make sure the flames don't spread.
    Tuesday's lightning storm in Southern Oregon peaked between 3 and 4 p.m., with lightning activity remaining in Jackson County until about 7 p.m. Rain, and even hail, fell in Ashland and Talent, and in the nearby western foothills, with more than half an inch of precipitation reported.
    About six-tenths of an inch fell at Fish Lake, and Klamath County's Summit Lake received more than an inch.
    National Weather Service officials expect some more rain today, with steady precipitation expected to start falling later this morning in parts of Jackson County.
    "Probably most areas will get around one tenth of an inch," said meteorologist Ken Sargeant, adding he doesn't expect many additional lightning strikes today.
    Between that and the cloud cover, Ballou is confident in crews' ability to snuff the fire starts before they get too severe.
    "Things are kind of in our favor," he said.
    — Ryan Pfeil
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