By Associated Press • 

Heat raises fire danger in east, south of Oregon

PORTLAND — Oregon has begun a dry, hot spell that increases the wildfire danger in much of the state and the risk of blazes igniting is heightened even further by expected lightning.

The hot weather, with some readings forecast to rise above 100, is expected to last through the week.

On Tuesday, forecasters at the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for critical fire weather conditions from in the afternoon and evening on the eastern slopes of the central Cascades and areas around the cities of Bend, Madras, Redmond and Prineville.

Temperatures were expected in the 90s, and forecasters say lightning from scattered thunderstorms could spark wildfires.

Lightning was also expected Tuesday afternoon in a band of southern Oregon stretching from west of the Cascade Range to Harney County in the east of the state.

The notice covers portions of Jackson County and all of Klamath, Lake and Harney counties, along with parts of the Cascade Range in Southern Oregon.

Lightning is expected to start developing in the early afternoon, with the potential for fast-spreading wildfires higher because there's so much dry vegetation.

“As we get into the afternoon, the lightning strikes will become more frequent,” meteorologist Mike Petrucelli told the Medford Mail Tribune. “It starts in Northern California a little bit earlier.”

Wildland firefighters at the Oregon Department of Forestry have said they would mobilize additional resources and crews should fires break out.

The weather service said a heat advisory and red-flag warning would apply to the southern Oregon region as well, with triple-digit readings common. Medford was expected to hit 101, Ashland 97.

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