It was a busy week for firefighters in Northern California national forests this week, with two days of thunderstorms bringing thousands of lightning strikes to the wilderness. Those lightning strikes, estimated at over 2,000 in the 48-hour span, caused 36 fires in those national forests.
Most of the fires were small, with many limited to just the tree that the lightning strikes hit. But with every one of the 36 fires reported (it’s possible that more may have ignited), a fire crew was on the scenes, mostly smokejumpers finding and detaining fires from the sky.
In the Shasta-Trinity, Klamath, Modoc, Lassen, Six Rivers and Mendocino National Forests, lightning was very active on Friday and Saturday, let’s take a look at each forest’s busy week:
Shasta-Trinity National Forest
The Shasta-Trinity National Forest had by far the most activity of any of the areas, with 578 lightning strikes causing 18 fires over the large national forest.
578 Lightning strikes have occurred in the past 24 hours on the Shasta-Trinity NF. As a result, firefighters are responding to several lightning fires across the forest. For more info on these specific fires, visit our lightning event Inciweb page at https://t.co/jRyuWOCkQ5 pic.twitter.com/q1hboKxjPn— Shasta-Trinity NF (@ShastaTrinityNF) August 10, 2019
You can see a list of all of the fires and their size here.
Klamath National Forest
The Klamath National Forest also saw its share of incredible lightning activity on Friday and Saturday, causing 14 fires in the area. Luckily, the thunderstorm also brought a significant amount of moistures, limiting each fire’s reach to just the tree hit by lightning.
Lassen/Modoc National Forests
Interesting morning in Modoc— USFS-Modoc (@ModocNF) August 10, 2019
This shot is from the #DoubleDevilWildHorseCorrals. This morning's lightning came with some rain, but firefighters are containing two fires in the Medicine Lake Highlands. All fires on the forest remain less than an acre. Report new smoke to 911. pic.twitter.com/vCpt35yCEY
Between the Modoc National Forest and Lassen National Forest in Lassen County is the McDonald Fire, which was caused by lightning on Thursday and grew to over 1,000 acres. Although the fire grew quickly, firefighters were able to contain it quckly, now sitting at 85 percent.
Also, Modoc National Forest reported three more fires in the South Warner area:
Three small fires have been discovered in the South Warners so far as a result of last night's lightning. Firefighters are on scene and responding, including multiple aircraft. A Red Flag Warning was issued today. PLEASE BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL WITH ANYTHING THAT COULD CAUSE A FIRE. pic.twitter.com/7Vv9J5mICM— USFS-Modoc (@ModocNF) August 8, 2019
With hundreds of lightning strikes hitting Mendocino, Del Norte, Humboldt and Trinity Counties, it’s safe to assume some fires were also ignited in the Six Rivers and Mendocino National Forests. As of now, no fires have been reported by the U.S. Forest Service.
The cloud to ground lightning strike count in Mendocino, Del Norte, Humboldt, & Trinity counties is now over 280. This count does not include cloud to cloud lightning. Storms have temporarily weakened, but isolated storms are still possible overnight into Saturday.— NWS Eureka (@NWSEureka) August 10, 2019
Ironically, many of these fires were started on Smoky the Bear’s birthday:
Happy Birthday Smokey Bear! Thank you for stopping by and we hope you enjoyed your cake! Here’s to another 75 years of helping spread the message “Only you can prevent wildfires” #SmokeyBear75 pic.twitter.com/MhG8sAKOgb— Shasta-Trinity NF (@ShastaTrinityNF) August 9, 2019