Lightning causes brush fires in the Gorge

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- Lightning strikes caused brush fires to erupt in the Columbia River Gorge on Thursday morning.

One of the fires started on the Washington side near Wind Mountain. The flames are now known as the Wind Mountain Fire. It's about a quarter acre in size and 100% contained.

"The lightning tree on the Washington side of the river was actually found, so they've confirmed it was a lightning strike," Rachel Pawlitz with the U.S. Forest Service said.

The other is on the Oregon side near Mitchell Point State Park just east of Cascade Locks. It's about half an acre and not far from the footprint of last summer's Eagle Creek Fire. Crews said they stopped it from spreading and are currently in the mop up stage.

"The fire is not spreading," Pawlitz said. "That does not mean it might not still be active in some way."

USFS said the Oregon brush fire was likely caused by lightning as well.

The fires Thursday morning weren't the first Gorge blazes this year. There have been a few human caused fires that were successfully extinguished, but according to Pawlitz, these two fires are the first of what could be many caused by nature itself.

More fires around Oregon

Around 10 a.m. Thursday, another brush fire -- caused by lightning -- was reported about three miles from Maupin on BLM property. 

The Boxcar Fire was 50 acres Thursday morning, but was reported to be around 2,000 acres by the afternoon. Two engines, two hand crews and rappellers are responding. A helicopter is also doing bucket drops.

Fire officials said the blaze could threaten Maupin.

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