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National forest prepares for lightning as fire danger upgraded

The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest is increasing the fire danger level to moderate at all ranger districts across the forest effective at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, and has prepared an aggressive response for any fires sparked by predicted lighting.

Total resources available include 16 engines, a Type 3 dozer, two 10-person modules, a Type 1 water tender, an air attack platform, a fixed-wing recon platform, staffed lookouts, the Rogue Valley Interagency Communications Center and the Medford Air Tanker Base.

“We have a phased approach in place for predicted events that we’ll use to ensure adequate staffing,” acting Fire Staff Officer Dan Quinones said in a news release. “Our forest is ready to host those assets whether that be at the ranger district level, or in a centralized hub at the staging area for forest-wide distribution. Our intent is for quick detection, aggressive initial attack and efficient use of the resources we have.”

The Industrial Fire Precaution Level remains at Level 1, and Stage 1 campfire restrictions remain in place within the boundaries of the Wild section of the Rogue National Wild and Scenic River, from Grave Creek to the mouth of Watson Creek.

Under Stage 1 campfire restrictions, building and maintaining a campfire or stove fire is prohibited with a few exceptions, including campfires contained within provided metal rings at developed campgrounds.

According to a news release sent out Monday, the Forest Service has requested and received additional funding for increased patrols, detection flights and law enforcement staffing. Fire agencies in southwest Oregon are urging caution for those participating in outdoor activities, noting that most fire starts this season have been caused by vehicles.

Drivers are being encouraged to park only in areas free of dry vegetation when out in the woods. Those towing or pulling a trailer should make sure the chains aren’t dragging, which can cause sparks.