Thunderstorms moved through the High Desert late Wednesday afternoon and evening, bringing hail in La Pine, the first significant rain for much of Bend in over a month – and lightning that sparked numerous fires and has crews rushing to catch them small.
Central Oregon fire dispatchers reported nine new fire or smoke reports from the storm that moved through by 6:15 p.m. and many more afterward -- close to 30 by midnight. By 9:30 p.m., officials said 16 fires had been staffed by Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch, all caught at less than a half-acre. Fire crews were working to find four others.
With strong winds expected Thursday, officials said they are concerned it could fan any smoldering fires, so crews will be out patrolling and reconnaissance flights will be looking for new starts.
Thursday morning, officials said they were picking up more small fires from the storms, including one near Tumalo Reservoir Road reported at 1/8 of an acre.