'Last night we could see flames flare up!'
OAKRIDGE, Ore. - Ron Barnes could see the fire from his back porch.
The lightning hit around 7:55 p.m. Sunday night.
Next came the flicker of the flames.
"Oakridge is at the base of the mountain from the fire," said Barnes. "Last night we could see flames flare up!"
The lightning hit hard the Willamette National Forest's Middle Fork and McKenzie River districts.
Firefighters are hard at work beating back the flames.
"We received over 400 lightning strikes last night and more are expected today,"said Darren Cross, acting district ranger for the USDA Forest Service. "Our staff are methodically attacking the fires that are nearest to towns and private land. Resources from the Staley Complex have been assisting us; everyone is in this together."
"This" is a bout of "critical fire weather" in Oregon. The whole state is under a Red Flag Warning from border to border, and lightning remains in the forecast.
Smoke from the fires is visible from Highway 58, Oakridge and Blue River.
If you see a fire on National Forest lands, please call either 911 or (541) 225-6400.
New ignitions are managed on a full suppression policy. Fire crews from local, state and federal agencies perform "initial attack" on the ground an by air.
Initial attack halts most lightning fires. A rare few are managed for natural benefit to the widland.
A small percentage escape initial attack and develop into large fires. These blazes can take days or weeks - or even the onset of fall rain - to contain.