Lightning Sparks 800-Plus Fires in California


 
 

Marcus Wohlsen | | Tuesday, June 24, 2008


SAN FRANCISCO -- More than 840 wildfires sparked by an unprecedented lightning storm are burning across Northern California, alarming the governor and requiring the help of firefighters from Nevada and Oregon.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he was told late Sunday evening that the state had 520 fires, and he found it quite shocking that by Monday morning the number had risen above 700.

Moments later, a top state fire official standing at Schwarzenegger's side offered a grim update. The figure was actually 842 fires, said Del Walters, assistant regional chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. All but a couple were in the northern part of the state.

This is an unprecedented lightning storm in California, that it lasted as long as it did, 5,000 to 6,000 lightning strikes, Walters said. We are finding fires all the time.

Two of the state's biggest fires had each charred nearly 6 square miles. One in Napa County quickly moved into Solano County, and threatened about 250 homes about 40 miles southwest of Sacramento, said Kevin Colburn, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It was 60 percent contained.

The other, in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest about 160 miles north of Sacramento, threatened about 1,200 homes.

Out-of-state assistance, mostly firefighting aircraft, arrived from Nevada and Oregon in response to weekend requests. Schwarzenegger said he had enlisted the help because you can never prepare for 500 or 700 or 800 fires all at the same time.

Part of the reason for the swelling number of wildfires was that local and state officials were still counting after fierce thunderstorms Friday night touched off the blazes.

We didn't get real lucky with this lighting storm, Walters said. It wasn't predicted - which often happens with these storms that come in off the Pacific, there's no history of the weather as it approaches the shore - and so we got hammered.

In Mendocino County alone there were 110 fires, with just 17 contained.

Along the coast in Los Padres National Forest, a 2,000-acre wildfire burning south of Big Sur since Saturday forced the evacuations of 75 homes and businesses, destroyed one house and threatened hundreds of others.

It also led to an emergency airlift Sunday of eight endangered California condors. U.S. Coast Guard helicopters transported the seven juveniles and one adult bird from a wildlife center to the Monterey Airport.

A second fire in Los Padres burned more than 57,000 acres and has injured nine firefighters.

In New Mexico, crews dropped 11,500 chemical balls injected with antifreeze to try to ignite unburned vegetation and halt a blaze that has charred more than 49,000 acres, largely on grazing allotments on federal land.

Lightning sparked the fire Tuesday in the Lincoln National Forest about 20 miles southwest of Hope. It was not threatening any structures.

The ranchers have already moved a lot of the cattle that were out there, U.S. Forest Service fire information officer Deanna Younger said. The grazing areas will be the main loss, she said.




Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Industry News, Natural Disasters

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

University of Pittsburgh STAAMP Trial

Trauma experts launch tranexamic acid trial.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

New York Ambulance Service Begins Using Power Cot

Service is first in county with new technology.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Traffic Cam Captures Wisconsin Ambulance Crash

Driver of ambulance cited for failing to operate safely.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

New Mexico Hospital Mourns Helicopter Crash Victims

TriState CareFlight pilot and crew killed in crash.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Moscow Subway MCI

At least 20 dead and 150 injured in subway derailment.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Hands On July 2014

Check out the latest products and innovations in JEMS.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Wounded Veteran Resiliency

Marine is one of many in quality of life study.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >