Crews surround fire near Dexter, work to contain other blazes

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Firefighters took to the air and the woods to track down new wildfires ignited by Sunday night's lightning even as they prepared for a second round of thunderstorms due Monday evening.

"Most of these are well up into the forestland. We don't see any communities being threatened at this time," said Link Smith with the Oregon Department of Forestry.

If that situation changes, the Lane County Sheriff's Office would get involved to help alert residents, Smith said.

For now, aerial reconnaissance flights are taking place now to assess the situation.

Some fire crews are already assigned to fires and working to contain them.

"We've numerous fires that we're working on," he said. "Some are currently staffed, some we're trying to work our way into."

Lightning worked its way through Lane and Linn counties on Sunday night.

Residents near Dexter report seeing a glow from flames followed by smoke and firefighting apparatus at work Monday morning.

Lightning started a fire on Round Mountain near Dexter around 8:30 p.m. Sunday. By Monday midday, the fire had burned about 30 acres. Crews attacked the blaze from the ground and from the air and have the area surrounded, according to Bob Holland with the Dexter Rural Fire Protection District.

Near Lebanon, firefighters reported fighting two lightning fires.

The Willamette National Forest reported nearly 400 lightning strikes in the Oakridge area. Forest staff said they had received 40 smoke reports by noon Monday, nearly all of them on the Middle Fork Ranger District headquartered in Westfir. The Forest Service asked the public to report new fires to (541) 225-6400.

"It's a busy day," Smith said. "We've got them all over. Some are on private ground, some are on Forest Service. We're working to divvy up the workload.

"It's all about helping each other out," he added. "We're both going to be busy."

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