Lightning overnight sparks three fires in Stanislaus National Forest

Three fires started by about 400 lightning strikes in the Stanislaus National Forest on Monday night kept firefighters busy Tuesday.

Two of the lightning fires are in the Crabtree Road/Aspen Meadow area, according to a news release from Rebecca A. Garcia, the national forest’s public affairs officer, and the third is in the area of Bummers Flat. Each fire was less than a quarter-acre as of late Tuesday afternoon, but lightning events are expected over the next few days.

“Our goal is to attack the fires while they’re still small, and hit them hard,” said fire Chief Chris Schow in the news release. “We are also continuing to monitor for other potential fire starts, using both ground personnel and air assets.”

In each lightning fire, crews were making significant progress to secure fire lines. Since 1970, fire personnel have caught more than 98 percent of wildfires at less than 100 acres, the release said.

Based on current weather conditions and expected trends, the Stanislaus Hotshots were moved to Bald Mountain Helitack Base to be better positioned for initial attack responses. Additionally, regional and national personnel and equipment are being temporarily relocated to the forest.

Five engines and two Type-2 crews, as well as one Type-3 incident commander from out of the region, are now in the forest. Type-2 crews typically consist of 18 to 20 firefighters and can be split to provide two crews.

Also, 10 smokejumpers and one aircraft were relocated from Porterville to Columbia Air Attack Base, a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection air base, Tuesday morning. This pre-positioning will assist the Stanislaus and neighboring national forests in quickly responding to any potential fire incidents.

The fire danger level in the Stanislaus National Forest is currently rated high. To learn how to help prevent wildfires, visit the One Less Spark campaign page, www.preventwildfireca.org/onelessspark.