Lightning Ignites 22 Fires in The Local Mountains
Incident: August Lightning Fires Wildfire
San Bernardino, Calif., Date, 2013 – Lightning storms passing over Southern California mountains during the early morning hours of August 19th started 22 fires in the San Bernardino National Forest.
Firefighters have been working diligently to suppress all of these lightning fires utilizing fire engines, hand crews, and helicopter water drops. The US Forest Service is conducting aerial reconnaissance flights each day over the forest to assist with detection of new lightning related fires. The reconnaissance flights are part of our normal operating plan after lightning storms.
21 out of the 22 reported fires have been contained under unified command of the San Bernardino National Forest and CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit, with the assistance of local fire departments.
The only fire not contained yet is the Gobblers Fire. It was reported at 2:36 pm on the 19th and it has since grown to 300 acres. It is burning in a steep inaccessible terrain northeast of Gobblers Knob, near Stockton Flats at the upper end of Lytle Creek. The fire is not threatening any communities at this time. Smoke from the Gobblers Fire is visible from Lytle Creek, Wrightwood, Cajon Pass and the high desert.
For more information on the Gobblers Fire, please visit http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3690/ For more information on the other lightning fires, please visit http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3672/ or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SanBernardinoNF
More about lightning fires:
Lightning and thunder storms are common in late summer in Southern California as monsoonal moisture patterns are present. Lightning is defined as a visible discharge of electrical energy in the atmosphere in the vicinity of thunderstorms, volcanic eruptions or wildfire convection columns. Lightning results from separation of electrical charges due to turbulence inside a convective cloud.
Lightning strikes are typically categorized by their polarity (either positive or negative) and their direction of travel: cloud to cloud, cloud to ground or cloud to air. Negative lightning strikes are the most frequently observed as cloud to ground (CG) flashes beneath active thunderstorm cloud bases in the vicinity of rain showers. Positive strikes are less frequent but tend to be more powerful and appear to be capable of traveling scores of miles (or sometimes more) from the parent cloud and away from the rainfall.
Lightning poses several threats. Electrocution from the strong electrical current in and near a direct lightning strike is capable of killing humans and animals. Strong currents are also possible in soil, bodies of water, and other conductors in the vicinity of a lightning strike. Lightning is capable of igniting fire and the blast effect from strikes has been known to explosively shatter the bark of trees. Humans incapacitated by a lightning strike do not carry a residual charge and can be safely moved.
The exact locations of thunderstorms are difficult to forecast accurately more than a few hours in advance. The approach of a thunderstorm is commonly heralded by darkening clouds and flashes of lightning accompanied by booms of thunder growing louder and closer. Sometimes lightning is visible without the sound of thunder and at other times thunder is audible without flashes of lightning. Both need to be taken seriously and cover sought before the arrival of a storm.
About the U.S. Forest Service, San Bernardino National Forest
The San Bernardino National Forest is comprised of three Ranger Districts spanning 679,380 acres in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. From the desert floor to the pristine mountain peaks, the San Bernardino National Forest offers natural environments, spectacular scenery, developed campgrounds and picnic areas, numerous recreational opportunities, and the solitude of quiet wilderness and open space for the over 24 million residents of Southern California and those visiting the area. The forest environment also provides habitat for numerous plants and animals and is crucial in sustaining drinking water, air, and soil quality. Learn more at http://www.fs.usda.gov/sbnf