Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

The combustible combination of lightning and a long spell of hot dry weather coalesced over Northeastern Oregon Saturday evening but the result was fizzle rather than fire.

As of this morning, no new lightning-sparked blazes had been reported, according to Forest Service and BLM officials.

“I was a little surprised,” said Willy Crippen, fire management officer for the Forest Service’s Burnt-Powder Fire Zone.

“But I’m not complaining.”

Al Crouch, a spokesman for the BLM’s Vale District, had a similar reaction.

“It’s a little strange — typically this is the time of year with these lightning storms where we get new fires,” Croach said. “But everything’s quiet.”

Both Crouch and Crippen attributed the absence of fires to the relatively low number of lightning bolts that hit the ground.

Much of the lightning in the storm that moved through Baker City — a storm that delayed the East-West Shrine All-Star Football Game for about 30 minutes (see story on Page 6A) — was “cloud-to-cloud” lightning that generated thunder but didn’t strike the ground and potentially ignite a fire, Crippen said.

He estimated that about 25 bolts hit the ground, mainly in the Phillips Reservoir and Hereford areas south of Baker City, with another dozen or so in the Wallowa Mountains.

Crouch said there were fewer than a dozen strikes in the Vale District.

Crippen said heavy rain and scattered hail also accompanied the lightning.

See more in the Aug. 6, 2018, issue of the Baker City Herald.

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