Lightning strikes reminder of serious fire season ahead | SierraSun.com

Lightning strikes reminder of serious fire season ahead

Renee Shadforth
Sierra Sun

A series of small lightning-sparked fires earlier this week have marked the beginning of the most dangerous stage of the fire season, fire officials said.

Firefighters hiked to three spot fires burning Tuesday morning on Sawtooth Ridge. Helicopters also dropped water on the blazes, which were a result of lightning strikes Monday night.

The small fires ” called “sleeper fires” because they smolder and flare up hours after a lightning strike ” were spotted by Martis Peak Lookout crews, said Tina Rose, public information officer for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

“That goes to show how valuable those lookouts are,” Rose said. “If we don’t catch [the fires] now, they’ll turn into serious forest fires.”

Two fires sparked Monday night in the midst of the lightning storm ” one fire three miles southeast of the Truckee Tahoe Airport and another just behind a home in Northstar, according to CDF reports.

The rain that accompanied the lightning helped avoid a more dangerous situation, said Bob Bena, Truckee Fire Protection District fire marshall.

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“At least we had some decent precipitation with the lighting. They weren’t just dry strikes,” he said.

Both of Monday night’s fires were out as of Tuesday morning, but crews will check the burned areas to be sure there aren’t any flare-ups, said Rose.

Lookout and fire crews will be on alert over the next few days to stamp out other sleeper fires in the area.

Because of fire season’s late and slow start this year, Rose said people may not be aware of the increasing fire danger. Right now, she said, people need to be more aware than ever.

“Fire season has gotten off to a slow start, but we’re in the most serious part of the fire season,” she said. “We are by no means complacent. We have three months of a very dangerous situation ahead of us.”