Lightning sparks 800-plus fires in California

By | June 24, 2008

click to enlarge. ap photo

Firefighters from neighboring states arrived to help Monday after an “unprecedented” lightning storm sparked more than 800 wildfires, from Big Sur to wine country to Humboldt County.

Thousands of firefighters battled the blazes on the ground and from the air and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he was alarmed by the number of fires that kept erupting.

He said he was told late Sunday evening that the state had 520 fires, and he found it “quite shocking” that by morning the number had risen above 700.

Moments later, a top state fire official standing at Schwarzenegger’s side offered a grim update: The figure was actually 842 fires, said Del Walters, assistant regional chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. All but a couple were in the northern part of the state.

“This is an unprecedented lightning storm in California, that it lasted as long as it did, 5,000 to 6,000 lightning strikes,” Walters said. “We are finding fires all the time.”

The assistance, mostly firefighting aircraft, arrived Monday from Nevada and Oregon after being requested over the weekend. Schwarzenegger said he had enlisted the help “because you can never prepare for 500 or 700 or 800 fires all at the same time.” – yahoo

I didn’t hear about any lighting personally, but a friend of a friend was caught in the lightning storm that triggered these fires. Did anyone else personally see the lightning storm? It must have been spectacular. I’d also like to find a map of where, exactly, these fires are.

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