Lightning storm sparks small wildfire

By Kelly Ducote, The Observer July 04, 2014 10:00 am

Lightning lights up the sky northeast of La Grande Wednesday night. Officials with the Oregon Department of Forestry said about 400 strikes were recorded between Wolf Creek Reservoir and La Grande. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
Lightning lights up the sky northeast of La Grande Wednesday night. Officials with the Oregon Department of Forestry said about 400 strikes were recorded between Wolf Creek Reservoir and La Grande. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)

Hundreds of lightning strikes result in a wildfire, leave some without power 

Dozens of lightning strikes Wednesday night prompted Union County residents to grab their cameras while others later dealt with a wildfire near North Powder.

About 400 lightning strikes were recorded between Wolf Creek Reservoir and La Grande during the storms, said Joe Hessel, a forester with the Oregon Department of Forestry. One strike resulted in a small wildfire about 6 miles northwest of North Powder. 

ODF, North Powder Rural Fire District and a private landowner responded to the blaze Thursday morning with engines and dozers. The fire was contained at three acres, Hessel said. ODF responded to another lightning-caused fire, but it was contained quickly and did not spread.

“The other fire was, more or less, a lightning-struck tree with a little bit of ground fire,” Hessel said. “There have few been a few other smoke chases.”

Most of the lightning occurred in the valley rather than in forested areas and was accompanied by a little precipitation, which helped minimize the risk of fire.

“The grass is not 100 percent cured yet, but it’s certainly getting there in the lower elevations,” Hessel said.

For the full story, see Friday's issue of The Observer