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Horse Prairie Fire likely caused by humans, not lightning

Horse Prairie Fire, September 3, 2017. (via Horse Prairie Fire Information)

RIDDLE, Ore. - The Horse Prairie Fire remains under investigation as a human-caused fire.

"Prior to the Horse Prairie Fire, there was no lightning in the area, so that would make it a human caused fire," Kyle Reed with the Douglas Forest Protective Association said. "The specific cause of the fire remains under investigation."

The fire was detected August 27, 2017, about 12 miles west of Riddle and 8 miles southeast of Camas Valley.

The first firefighters on scene found a 50-acre fire with multiple spot fires - new ignitions sparked by burning embers thrown aloft by the fire.

Since then, it has burned nearly 16,500 acres.

The fire forced some residents outside Riddle to evacuate. The Douglas County Sheriff lowered the evacuation notice to Level 2 "Be Set" on Wednesday night, allowing those residents to go home.

DFPA employs a system of cameras to watch for smoke from wildfires. Land managers also use lightning tracking technology to anticipate where new fires might start.

The massive Stouts Creek Fire in 2015 was caused by people cutting grass with gas-powered equipment in violation of fire restrictions in effect at the time.

The Eagle Creek Fire raging in the Columbia River Gorge was likely started by a teen playing with fireworks, investigators say.

But many of the other fires forcing Oregonians to flee homes and campgrounds were sparked by lightning.

The massive Chetco Bar Fire near Brookings began as a quarter acre - about the size of a nicer suburban home lot - ignited by lightning July 12. That fire has since grown to more than 175,000 acres.

Lightning is also to blame for the Avenue and Separation fires in the Horse Creek Complex, which are responsible for the evacuation notices in effect in the upper McKenzie River area.

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