Fire crews respond to lightning-caused fires; more thunderstorms predicted

Crews from the Susanville Interagency Fire Center have responded to 45 reported fires after thunderstorms rolled across northeast California yesterday afternoon and evening, Monday, July 24.

The fires were concentrated on Bureau of Land Management-administered lands in eastern Lassen County, and on forestlands protected by the Cal Fire in the west-central parts of Lassen County. Crews also responded to three fires on BLM-managed lands in far northwest Nevada, according to a statement from the Susanville Interagency Fire Center.

There were 28 fires on BLM lands managed by the Eagle Lake Field Office in Susanville along and east of the U.S. Highway 395 corridor north of Susanville.  Crews are working on seven blazes on lands managed by the BLM’s Applegate Field Office in Alturas and Cedarville.

Crews were fighting 17 fires on lands protected by CAL FIRE northwest of Susanville.

Officials at SIFC said firefighting resources, including air tankers, helicopters, smokejumpers, ground crews and bulldozers have been assigned to all ongoing fires.

Yesterday’s largest fire burned about 165 acres of high desert land near the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in far northern Washoe County Nevada before crews stopped its forward progress. Crews also held a fire on Shaffer Mountain near Litchfield to about 90 acres. Crews are working to keep the remaining fires small.

Fire crews today, Tuesday, July 25 will be bracing for another round of thunderstorms and potential fire starts, said Eric Ewing, Lassen County’s chief of emergency services. Crews will also be ready to respond to “sleeper” fires, smoldering lightning strikes that could spring to life when conditions warm up in the afternoon.

“We are asking everyone to be extremely careful with outdoor use of fire,” Ewing said.  “Our firefighting resources are stretched thin, and human-caused fires will pull them away from fighting the lightning fires.”