Lightning from a rare late night thunderstorm touched off at least four small wildfires in Northeastern Oregon early Tuesday, and crews doused those blazes as well another, slightly larger, fire of undetermined cause.
The storm passed through the region late Monday into early Tuesday.
The biggest of the blazes, at 1.8 acres, burned near the Bonanza Mine in the far western edge of Baker County, about 4 miles east of Greenhorn, according to the Blue Mountain Interagency Dispatch Center in La Grande.
The cause of that fire hadn’t been determined as of Wednesday afternoon. Firefighters from the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and Oregon Department of Forestry worked on the fire, which was contained at 8:32 a.m. Wednesday.
The other four fires were all sparked by lightning, according to the Dispatch Center. Three of the four were “spot” fires — covering less than one-tenth of an acre.
The largest of the lightning fires was on private land in the Red Ridge area about 16 miles south of La Grande. It burned about three-quarters of an acre, and Forestry Department crews contained the fire at 9:23 p.m. Tuesday.
Lightning ignited two spot fires in the Elkhorn Mountains.
Four rappellers from Union County worked on a fire that involved a single tree surrounded by rock and scree on a slope above Red Mountain Lake in the North Powder River canyon northwest of Haines, said Travis Mason-Bushman, a spokesman for the Wallowa-Whitman. The rappellers, who descend to the ground via ropes attached to a helicopter, contained the fire at 7:19 p.m. Tuesday.
The other lightning-sparked fires, both less than one-tenth of an acre.
• Deer Creek, about 15 miles west of Baker City, was contained at 7:14 a.m. Wednesday. Crews from the Wallowa-Whitman and the Forestry Department worked on the fire.
• Patrick Creek, near Whitney about 25 miles southwest of Baker City. It was contained at 4:04 p.m. Tuesday.