Fire Center activates lightning plan
Kincaid said SIFC was fully staffed and ready to handle the fires as they came up, at least for now. He said SIFC’s lightning plan essentially staffs fires based on need, with engines being dispatched to fires as they come up.
“The lightning plan is that instead of sending a whole bunch of equipment to each fire, we strip everything for one fire,” Kincaid said. “If you send too much equipment while in the lightning plan, and then you have 20 lightning fires all around, you can be in trouble.”
As of Wednesday, Aug. 6, five fires caused by lightning were in the jurisdiction of the Lassen-Modoc unit of CAL FIRE, three were confirmed in the Eagle Lake Ranger District, and three were confirmed in Lassen National Forest’s jurisdiction near Lake Almanor. Extra lookouts were staffed as a precaution. Kincaid said that none of the fires ever grew too far out of control, with only a handful of fires growing beyond an acre in size.
Due to the random location of many of the fires within the forests, Kincaid said they have had some fire personnel hiking around in full gear. Kincaid said SIFC even inserted smokejumpers into one of the fires near Almanor in the Ishi Wilderness of the Lassen National Forest.
SIFC co-manager Jim Hedges said there were three more fires that were spotted on Thursday, Aug. 6. All of the fires were contained quickly. Hedges said there was a little concern about a lightning cell moving north of Pyramid Lake, but SIFC was tracking it.
Kincaid said this has been an odd fire season. He said June is usually the time of year when local and state fire agencies start staffing up, but the lightning came up so early this year that it caught many people by surprise.
“It’s not normal for us,” Kincaid said. “Generally, our lightning period is August, September and October. We’ve had early lightning storms in April and May, but not like this where the entire north state gets hammered in June. There were close to 2,000 fires, and we’ve never seen that before. They’re still calculating the (acreage) and the costs. Fire agencies are just getting into getting new people on and getting returning firefighters trained. We’re normally just not up to full strength in June, none of the fire agencies are.”
Kincaid said that as a result, there will probably be a point when fire agencies will see a change in when they are brought up to full strength prior to the beginning of the fire season.
As for the recent string of fires caused by lightning, SIFC was still in its lightning plan through Thursday, Aug. 7, in anticipation of more thunderstorms coming into the county over the weekend.
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