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New forest fires near Leaburg, Vida: 'It is crucial that we act fast'

Firefighters are responding to new blazes near Vida and Leaburg after lightning passed through the area August 10, 2017. (Marcus Kauffman, Oregon Department of Forestry)

EUGENE, Ore. - A lightning storm sparked new forest fires in the Leaburg and Vida areas Thursday just as the nation's firefighting resources have been stretched thin.

The lack of additional firefighters to combat the new blazes comes as Oregon prepares for an influx of visitors for the solar eclipse August 21.

Firefighters worry that people could ignite new fires with cars, campfires or cigarettes as thousands attempt to get a glimpse of the eclipse.

“When it’s this hot and dry, everyone needs to think twice before using anything that might emit a spark," said Chris Cline, forester for the South Cascade District.

Crews from the Oregon Department of Forestry swiftly contained a pair of new fires, but a third on Goat Point has burned 5 acres and remains uncontained, the agency said in a statement.

“When these lightning busts come through, it is crucial that we act fast and that means relying on our neighbors and cooperators for help," Cline said. "Firefighters from ODF’s South Cascade have been working side by side with crews from ODF Western Lane, Coos and Douglas Forest Protective Associations, the Willamette National Forest, and multiple private landowners."

The fires will be managed as a "complex" - a designation for a group of fires close to one another being fought under a central command structure.

This cluster of fires will be known as the "Trout Creek Complex," Forestry said in a statement.

Department of Forestry said about 35 people are fighting the fires as of Friday.

Fire managers hope cool, moist weather in the forecast comes to frution.

"Weather forecasters predict cool moist marine air will move into the area by Sunday," they said, "which may provide more favorable conditions for fire suppression."

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