HINES - Two random lightning strikes in southeast Oregon late Tuesday afternoon ignited a new wildfire near Red Mountain in the Trout Creek Mountains area.
Crews responded quickly to the Water Tower Fire, which "laid down" until sporadic winds fanned it back to life about 11 p.m., the Bureau of Land Management reported.
On Wednesday, the BLM estimated the fire at about 300-500 acres. At least three area ranches have structures in the fire vicinity, although they aren't immediately threatened.
Livestock grazing allotments, inaccessible terrain, private inholdings and sage grouse core habitat are also concerns.
Officials say that with high fuel loads of grass and brush from two seasons of productive growth and low winter snowpack, fire spread could be rapid and intense in this area. Longer burn periods and elevated fire intensity extending after sunrise also are possible.
Five air tankers, three helicopters, numerous engines and dozers are supporting firefighting efforts, with heavy air tankers on ordered if needed.
The Trout Creek Mountains are in the southeast corner of the state, near the Oregon-Nevada border.
Meanwhile, the Miller Homestead fire west of Frenchglen is 95 percent contained. The fire started Sunday, July 8.
The BLM said the dry peat soils in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge continue to burn below the surface, presenting a unique challenge for firefighters.