Thunderstorms were rumbling again tonight in Central Oregon. This time they were in the Maury Mountains in the Ochoco National Forest and along U.S. Highway 20 east of Bend.
There were several reports of fires in the Maury Mountains, south of there on Bureau of Land Management lands and between the mountains and U.S. Highway 20, Patrick Lair, spokesman for the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center in Prineville, said tonight about 8:15 p.m.
Fire crews were en route to check on the possible fires, he said.
Recent lightning kept fire crews busy today around Central Oregon. Firefighters today corralled small wildfires around the Deschutes National Forest.
Lightning Tuesday started some of the fires and more lightning Wednesday meant more new wildfires today.
“There is really nothing of size that has popped up today,” Lair said.
Several hundred lightning strikes hit Wednesday around Three Creek Road near Sisters and firefighters were there were contending with about 10 small fires, Lair said. The fires burned less than a half-acre each.
Crews were also at fires off the Cascade Lakes Highway west of Bend. Smokejumpers contained a half-acre fire on the southwest slope of Mount Bachelor reported Wednesday night. A tenth of an acre fire was also found northeast of the mountain today and fire crews had it lined by this evening. Firefighters continued work on about 20 or more fires within a 10-mile radius of Crane Prairie Reservoir, most sparked by lightning Tuesday, Lair said. The largest was about 20 acres and didn’t grow today. Fire crews etched a line around half the fire, about four miles northeast of the reservoir, but had yet to contain it.
Far northeast of Bend, two helicopters and three air tankers fought the Sniption Fire burning between Condon and Fossil. The fire, which started Wednesday, is now estimated at 25,000 acres, over 39 square miles, and is burning private land and land overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. The fire threatened some ranch homes Wednesday night but no homes were lost. Crews are trying to keep the blaze west of state Highway 19, the road connecting the two towns. As of this evening the Sniption Fire was 20 percent contained and its cause was still unknown.
More thunderstorms could be in store for Central Oregon. The National Weather Service has a red flag warning up for potential thunderstorms until 11 p.m. Saturday.
— Dylan J. Darling