PENDLETON — Hot weather and a series of thunderstorms caused 15 to 20 fires across the Umatilla National Forest Sunday night, according to a U.S. Forest Service press release.

Smoke and fires are expected to continue through the first half of the week, but the Forest Service reports that most of the fires are small and less than 1 acre in size.

Umatilla National Forest spokeswoman Darcy Weseman said the area that’s seen the most fires is the Heppner Ranger District.

Weseman said the Forest Service is calling the collection of fires, the largest spanning 100 acres, the HK Complex Fire.

As a result of the fires, Weseman said the Forest Service is calling in a command team from John Day to lead the firefighting effort. The team is slated to take over at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

As aircraft and lookouts assist in detecting fires, the weather isn’t expected to help for the first half of the week.

The National Weather Service states that temperatures are expected to touch 100 degrees in some parts of northeast Oregon on Tuesday and scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening are possible.

The forest service has declared fire danger high and is upholding restrictions to chain saw use.

As heat and thunderstorms continue through Tuesday, Weseman said the Forest Service expects more fires.

Although the thunderstorms are expected to remain through the weekend, the weather service is anticipating that temperatures will drop into the 80s by Friday.

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