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Bravo, firefighters; be careful out there

Rogue Valley residents were treated to a display of Mother Nature’s pyrotechnics Sunday, and we have the wildfires to prove it.

Heavy rain fell in places, but thunder rolled and lightning flashed across the region, and 2,000 bolts struck the ground. For all that, only about 100 fires are known to have been kindled, although that number can rise over the next few days as “sleeper” fires spring to life after smoldering for a while.

Hardworking, intrepid fire crews leaped into action Sunday and Monday, attacking the new fires with everything they had. The result was rapid containment of many smaller fires and excellent progress against the 100-acre Sterling fire. Water and retardant drops, along with stellar work by hand crews, had that blaze 55 percent contained by midday Monday. The quick action allowed authorities to lift an evacuation order issued earlier for residents along Sterling Creek Road.

Meanwhile, other crews were working against the Hendrix fire, burning southwest of Ashland and estimated at 170 acres Monday, and smokejumpers and rappel crews were dispatched to fight a 5-acre fire in the Ashland watershed.

Multiple fires also were burning near Eagle Point, in the Trail Creek and Elk Creek drainages and in the High Cascades Ranger District.

Last week we warned people to be very careful to avoid any human-caused fires. The ones now burning are the result of lightning, over which no one has control.

The good news is, weather forecasters don’t expect any more thunderstorms in the next several days, and temperatures are expected to drop a little by the end of the week — at least below triple digits.

Our sun hats are off to the fire crews for their outstanding work so far, and we know they will be on the job for a while longer before these fires are contained.

But it’s only mid-July, and no doubt we are due for more lightning before summer’s end. Use extra caution in the woods — that’s something over which we do have control.

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