Wildfires started by lightning burn in California

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A large lightning storm this week sparked over 800 wildfires in northern California. A lightning storm this past Friday caused wildfires burning from Mendocino County to Monterey County, the latter a county that has been declared an emergency zone, along with Trinity County. Of the 800 wildfires burning, recent numbers say that around 200 are unattended, some being left to burn themselves out.

Over 100,000 acres have been burned from these wildfires. Already an early fire season, the National Climatic Data Center reports this has been the driest spring in 114 years of record keeping. The lack of precipitation and dry thunderstorms have turned the northern part of the state into a smoky inferno. Smoke is so bad in Sacramento (and as far away as Reno) that health authorities have encouraged the public to stay inside, and in Monterey County some residents were ordered to evacuate.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger asked for help from other states, and Nevada and Oregon have thus far responded. Oregon has sent 2,400 firefighters already. Nevada itself has struggled with wildfires, nearly 100 fires are estimated to be burning. Oregon does not have as many wildfires due to their saturated climate.