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Forest Monitoring 17 Fires, Lightning And Human Caused

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Sonora, CA – Forest officials are monitoring 17 fires that were either sparked by lightning or humans and the cause of one is under investigation.

As of this past Monday, eight new fires were ignited out of the 17 on the Stanislaus National Forest in Tuolumne and Calaveras County, some were detailed here earlier this month. Of the new blazes, 4 were caused by lightning, 3 by humans and 1 with the cause yet to be determined.

Forest Service spokesperson Maria Benech says the blaze does not appear to be suspicious. She explains, “We’ll, it wasn’t really obvious when we went out there as to whether it was a lightning strike or something else. So, we thought that we couldn’t call it a lightning strike because there were some circumstances that made us question it. Did someone accidentally set it or was it lightning? So, we’re trying to check into it.”

Forest fire crews are monitoring all the fires and Benech details, “They’re all very small, less than an acre or most of them are well under an acre.  If they are still going and we are monitoring them, then they have little potential to get over five acres. May be up to ten. They are all in isolated areas. The other ones that were human-caused; those are different. We go to those and put them out.”

To date in 2020, there have been 43 fires, 23 lightning and 20 human-caused. 26 of those blazes have been extinguished. All the fires, except for the Quarter Fire, have been under an acre in size.

Regarding whether those numbers are higher than usual, Benech relays that the number of human-caused fire is on the high side, but not too much higher than most of the past 10 years.  She adds that the number of lightning-caused fires is more of an anomaly though with only one year in the last 10 that had more by this date with 36. The fire list below also shows that in 2015 there were 20, but the other years were all 6 or under:

Fires between January 1st and July 31st over the last 10 years:

  • 2010 – 7 human, 1 lightning
  • 2011 – 4 human, 3 lightning
  • 2012 – 23 human, 1 lightning
  • 2013 – 14 human, 6 lightning
  • 2014 – 14 human, 36 lightning
  • 2015 – 16 human, 20 lightning
  • 2016 – 19 human, 2 lightning
  • 2017 – 12 human, 1 lightning
  • 2018 – 26 human, 0 lightning
  • 2019 – 15 human, 0 lightning

Benech wants the public to get this take away from the above stats, “Unfortunately, human-caused fires can be our number one cause of fires, which is why we have had those stricter fire restrictions this year. We’re really shutting it down statewide because of the concern of our firefighters, with COVID and just fires taking off on us and that is fairly consistent with what we’ve seen in the past.”

Those restrictions are detailed here.