Firefighters: All hands on deck for adverse weather

Firefighters: All hands on deck for adverse weather (News 10 File Photo)

Firefighters across Southern Oregon are teaming up to make sure they have enough resources in place to respond to any fires sparked from inclement weather expected today through the weekend.

"It's all hands on deck," Natalie Weber Public Information Officer for the Oregon Department of Forestry said. While ODF has seasonal firefighters working during their declared fire season, right now no one can take off.

Structural protection local fire departments have been coordinating leading up to the weather event.

"All of the major fire departments have been communicating over the last 24 hours as to what can each department add to the already normal levels to handle more calls if they come," Austin Prince, Operations Chief Rural Metro Fire Department said.

Rural Metro Fire in Josephine County is on "severity staffing," or staffing above normal levels.

"It allows us to be able to call people in on their day off and who is willing and able to come it," Prince said. "It's so we can be prepared and handle more calls if they come."

Adverse weather conditions for this staffing level include red flag warnings, gusty east winds, low humidity, and lightning storms.

Miles Bliss Meteorologist from the National Weather Service in Medford said beyond damaging lightning there could be severe occurrences.

"Of the afternoon-evening scattered thunderstorms one to three in a given area could be severe. That means hail, up to one inch (quarter-sized), 60-knot wind gusts (69 mph), and lightning," Bliss said.

Last August in Southern Oregon Bliss said the NWS counted 3,000 lightning strikes in a given event.

"We don't expect to see the same amount of lightning we experienced last year at this time. It's tough to predict but that's something we're anticipating," Bliss said. "It could produce a couple hundred, as much as, 1,000 lightning strikes."

Friday morning there was a red flag warning for Jackson, Josephine, Douglas, Klamath, Lake and Siskiyou County in Northern California.

Red Flag Warning for eastern portions of Curry County eastern of Agness and eastern portions of Coos County east of Sitkum.

"These storms can spill over into Saturday. But we're not expecting them to be severe," Bliss said.

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