Weekend Lightning Could Lead To 'Sleeper' Fires

Jul 14, 2014

Wildfires continue to rage around the Northwest. The Mills Canyon fire in central Washington has charred 35 square miles. In Oregon, the Moccasin Hill Fire has destroyed at least a half-dozen homes near Klamath Falls. Forecasters say weather conditions are ripe for more fires to develop in the coming days.

Firefighters along Highway 97A are battling the Mills Canyon fire in central Washington state.
Credit InciWeb

It's hot. It's dry. Oh, and there’s thunder and lightning in the region as well. In Oregon alone, lightning struck the ground more than 6000 times on Sunday. This phenomenon can spell trouble for the days ahead. A lightning bolt might not start a fire right away. Instead, it can strike some sort of ground fuel and smolder for a few days. When temperatures rise into the upper 90's, these so-called sleeper fires can quickly accelerate. Robin DeMario is with the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center in Portland.

"These sleeper fires are going to flare up and start appearing. So each day this week we anticipate encountering more and more fires resulting from the lightning that occurred on Sunday," said Demario.

DeMario says people who see low-level smoldering shouldn't hesitate to call 911 since it might be the sign of a much larger fire to come. Temperatures are expected to top 100 degrees in much of the inland Northwest during the middle part of the week.

Information about the Moccasin Hill fire: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/photographs/3946/

Information about the Mills Canyon fire: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3937/

Copyright Northwest News Network 2014