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Lightning sparks new blazes; largest burns nearly 80 acres in Wheeler County

Alder Creek Fire VLAT Al Wood 77
Al Wood/C.O. Interagency Dispatch Center
Air attack plane looks down on VLAT (Very Large Air Tanker) dropping retardant to stop the spread of the Alder Creek Fire near Service Creek.

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A storm that passed through Central Oregon Monday night blanketed the area with about 100 lightning strikes, sparking at least five new wildfires, the largest burning nearly 80 acres in Wheeler County.

Tlast night blanketing the area in approximately 100 lightning strikes. Firefighters have responded to five new incidents from that lightning today, the largest of which is the Alder Creek Fire 5 miles northeast of the Service Creek area.

Several engines, a 20-person hand crew and a bulldozer have held the Alder Creek Fire to 78 acres with the assistance of a VLAT (Very Large Air Tanker) and a SEAT (Single Engine Air Tanker).

The fire was burning on private lands about five miles northeast of Service Creek, near Prineville District BLM land and other property held by the Oregon Department of State Lands.

Meanwhile, Incident 370, about 34 miles south of Condon, burned in grass and brush and had been estimated to be 50 acres, but was more accurately mapped at 15 acres.

Officials said crews were completing mop-up of that fire Tuesday evening. The other lightning-sparked fires also were expected to be contained by the end of Tuesday.

Also, the 48-acre Paulina Lake Fire that broke out Sunday on BLM lands near Highway 97 and north of Forest Road 21 in the La Pine area is now 40% contained, officials said late Tuesday.

Crews are continuing to mop-up the fire perimeter to achieve full containment.

Fire officials reminded the public to be careful with any ignitions on public lands.

Central Oregon is currently in high fire danger, meaning fuels are very receptive to ignitions. If you are recreating on public lands, remember to remain diligent about ensuring all campfires are ‘dead out’ and cold to the touch when you leave them, all spark arrestors are properly installed, and trailer chains are secured.

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