Much of Oregon on high alert for lightning, wildfires

Much of Oregon on high alert for lightning, wildfires
Areas in pink on this map are under a "red flag" warning, meaning there is a high fire risk. (Map from National Weather Service)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon authorities are bracing for an outbreak of wildfires as the week begins.

The National Weather Service has issued what it calls "red flag" warnings for much of Central and Eastern Oregon. That means conditions are lined up for fires to ignite: lightning in the forecast, dry conditions on the ground, warm and windy weather expected.

Federal officials list two large wildfires currently in Oregon.

One is a 290-acre blaze about half contained in Grant County east of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument and of Dayville. Firefighters said Monday morning that U.S. 26 through the area remains open.

The other fire area is larger, about 2,800 acres — or more than four miles square. It's west of Frenchglen in Harney County. Firefighters say gusty winds are pushing it.

The fire is burning in sagebrush and grass. It was started by lightning, firefighters said.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the smoke from those two fires is blowing east. However there are thin layers of smoke from fires in Northern California that are blowing into the Willamette Valley.

In Washington, firefighters are battling a 775 acre fire in steep and rocky terrain. The Navarre Fire is burning about 18 miles southwest of Chelan, Wash.

Fire season officially begins across all of Oregon on July 11, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry.

That official designation mostly impacts logging operations, which are required to keep watch for fires after work ends each day during the season. They must have have firefighting equipment at the ready.

Certain restrictions are also placed on recreational activities, including campfires.