More than 500 firefighters succeeded in containing a blaze late Sunday that ravaged 14,988 acres and three mobile homes in New Cuyama, only to see a bolt of lightning start up a fresh fire several miles away on Monday. Because of fire crews’ proximity to the second burn, they were able to contain it before it consumed more than 55 acres. More crews continue to come to the region as lightning storms persist. According to Helen Tarbet of the National Forest Service, fires started by lightning are among the most unpredictable. If a pine tree gets zapped, for instance, it can heat the sap up to a boiling point, causing the tree to explode as many as five days after the lightning struck. Lightning also ignites simmering blazes in green vegetation. When lightning strikes remote areas prone to fire, meteorologists use sensors that measure the electricity in the air to pinpoint where the lightning hit and direct firefighters to a potential fire.
WAITING FOR LIGHTNING TO STRIKE:
Originally published 12:00 p.m., June 29, 2006
Updated 3:10 p.m., July 20, 2006
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