Kimberly fire grows to 300 acres

A fire helicopter pulls water out of the John Day River near Kimberly, northwest of John Day, after lightning sparked several blazes in the area. Firefighters on Friday were trying to contain the fires before they spread. Photo contributed by Lisa Railey

Updated 2:35 p.m.

JOHN DAY - The Malheur National Forest reported nearly 100 fires on MNF and Oregon Department of Forestry lands as a result of lightning Thursday and Friday, Aug. 7-8, as thunderstorms stalled over Eastern Oregon.

By early afternoon on Friday, Aug. 8, most of the fires were less than an acre in size.

However, ODF crews were battling a 300-acre blaze in the Kimberly area. A 275-acre fire north of the Waterman area has been contained, and fire crews also contained a fire north of Mitchell at 61 acres.

Officials expect more reports of fires as the temperature rises and the smoke billows up from the previous night's lightning strikes.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning, which remains in effect into Friday night, Aug. 8, for Grant County and the Southern Blue Mountains.

Officials say the combination of abundant lightning, strong winds, and dry vegetation poses a high risk for wildland fires.

To report a fire, call 541-575-1321.

On Thursday, multiple lightning-sparked fires kept firefighting resources moving across the central and eastern part of the state.

Early morning lightning on the east slopes of the Cascade Mountains, got dispatchers and firefighters busy on lands west of Bend. The storms brought lightning over the Prineville area and then toward the John Day area. By early evening, over 160 incident reports of fires on federal, state, and private lands across Central Oregon came into the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center (COIDC).

A variety of local initial attack air and ground resources kept most fires small - less than 1/2 acre. However, two fires burning in rangeland adjacent to the John Day River, north of Clarno, were approximately 200 acres and 400 acres. A third fire, also burning in rangeland, located along the ridge of the Lower Deschutes River and west of Grass Valley, grew to approximately 300 acres.

Engines and a helicopter were responding to the fire on the Lower Deschutes River, while rural fire departments worked on the fires north of Clarno. All of these larger fires were responding well to the initial attack.

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