Our View: Searching for smoke
You know it’s getting bad when lightning strikes force Rick Baender off the air. But that was exactly the case Tuesday at about 4 p.m. Baender was on the airwaves reporting multiple lightning bolts all around the region when he had to get off the radio. In his seventh season manning the Martis Peak Fire Lookout, this veteran spotter knows when to lay low.For the rest of us, these lightning storms are a good time to be even more vigilante during this parched summer. With all the strikes hitting, the more eyes the better. All it takes is one lightning bolt to hit a tree in your backyard: Are you prepared?Meanwhile, as of 5:30 p.m. Tuesday there were some 13 small fires burning on the Tahoe National Forest spawned by some 155 strikes. Those had fire crews on the move and fears of one or more of those small blazes turning into the next Antelope Complex Fire. That’s the 22,500-acre blaze burning up in Plumas County that was started last week by a half-dozen lightning strikes. That’s why Baender, and the other volunteers who staff the Martis Peak Lookout, are such important assets. Martis Peak is the last active fire lookout in the Truckee-Tahoe area, and with this year being an even more critical fire season than normal, having those eyes searching for smoke is a little bit of reassurance when the possibility of a big fire is largely out of the community’s control.