Fire crews make gains on large fires, but more lightning looms

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) Most of the large wildfires burning east of the Cascade Range in Oregon for the past two weeks were at or near containment Monday, but a new round of intense lighting storms was forecast later this week, particularly across the central part of the state.

Six of the 11 large wildfires still active were at 80 percent or more containment after burning across 926 square miles of timber, brush and grass, the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center in Portland reported. A total of 4,063 people were fighting the fires, down from 6,730 last week. | Large fires, in brief

The largest wildfire in the nation, the Buzzard Complex, is 98 percent contained after burning 618 square miles of rangeland about 45 miles southeast of Burns.

Isolated lightning was forecast Monday and Tuesday in southern Oregon, particularly east of the Cascades. Lightning storms were expected to become more intense Wednesday through Sunday from central Oregon to the Idaho border, with moderate to heavy potential for starting large fires.

"The lightning itself is a concern, because we are going through this warming and drying period," said Carol Connolly, spokeswoman for the coordination center. "If there is an ignition, there is a high potential for large fires, especially in central Oregon."

Though some firefighters were being released for reassignment elsewhere, initial attack crews were still on hand to go after new fires, Connolly said.

Among them was the Shaniko Butte Fire, which was 90 percent contained after burning 66 square miles of grass and brush 15 miles north of Warm Springs.

The Bridge 99 Complex, which had forced evacuations along the Metolius River 20 miles north of Sisters, was 88 percent contained after scorching 9 square miles of timber.

The Pine Creek Complex near Fossil was just short of containment after burning 102 square miles of grass and timber.

And the Center Fire 3 miles northeast of Post was 90 percent contained after charring 4 square miles of timber and grass.

Large fires in Oregon, in brief

Kitten Complex, near Vale. 22,700 acres. 60% containment.

Ochoco Complex, east of Post. 10,004 acres. 79% containment.

Bear Butte II, southwest of Warm Springs. 3,852 acres. 60 percent contained.

Camp Creek, southeast of Juntura. 6,274 acres, 100% contained.

Buzzard Complex, northeast of Burns. 395,747 acres. 98% contained.

Bridge 99 Complex, north of Sisters. 5,699 acres, 88% contained.

Rye Valley, northwest of Huntington. 1,516 acres, 100% contained.

Pine Creek, near Fossil. 30,245 acres, 100% contained.

Donnybrook, near Antelope. 100% contained.

Black Rock, east of Antelope. 35,938 acres, 97% contained.

Jack Knife, southeast of Grass Valley. 13,263 acres, 100% contained.

Bingham Complex, east of Marion Forks. 452 acres, 50% contained.

Ferguson, northeast of Klamath Falls. 200 acres, 50% contained.

Shaniko Butte, north of Warm Springs. 42,044 acres, 90% contained.

Center, northeast of Post. 2,515 acres, 90% contained.

Hurricane Creek, southwest of Joseph. 502 acres, 20% contained.

Sunflower, north of Monument. 7,175 acres, 100% contained.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press