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Lightning Fires Burn In Forest

As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, 45 lightning-caused fires have broken out on the Stanislaus National Forest. The new fires are located at the mid-and-higher elevations. Firefighting lightning teams are making good progress on the lower elevation, higher potential fires, with at least four fires now contained.

According to Pat Kaunert with the U.S. Forest Service Sonora headquarters, most of these fires are located in the higher elevations, and are less than 1/4 acre in size, with a number at 1/10 acre or less. These fires do not presently pose a direct, imminent threat to homes or communities. Fires range from about 3,500 to about 9,000 feet in elevation.

One fire, a 2 1/2 + acre fire located mid-slope on the north side of Mount Knight in the North Fork Stanislaus River Canyon continues to be of most concern at this time. Presently, the fire does not directly threaten structures or communities. We have “boots on the ground” working this fire, and a large, Type I helicopter making water drops. Firefighting crews are making progress on this fire, and will continue working on other priority fires throughout the night.

The very general location of these fires by Ranger District are as follows:

SUMMIT and CALAVERAS:

Milk Creek area–3

Shovel Grave area–1

Donnel Vista / Lake area–2

Lake Moran area–1

Clark Fork area–3

Sherman Acres area–1

Barn Meadow area-1

Utica Reservoir Area–1

Haypress / Sardine Meadow area–2

Bummer Flat Area–1

Relief / Grouse Lake area–2

Crabtree / Bell Meadow area–3

Powell Lake area–1

Hyatt Lake area–2

Cherry Creek area–1

SUMMIT and CALAVERAS:

Coffin Hollow area–2

Ackerson Meadow area–1

Bourland Mountain area–2

Fraser Flat area–1

Mount Knight area–2

American Camp area–1

Ruby Springs area–1

Mount Elizabeth area–1

Yankee Hill area–1

The Forest will be conducting a lightning reconnaissance flight today, and will continue to remain vigilant for new fires throughout the next week. Fire management personnel will be watching for any “sleepers” or hold-over smouldering fires that flare up as weather conditions quickly become warmer and drier. Fire officials expect to detect additional fires over the next few days.

Firefighting crews are in a race against time because conditions are becoming drier by the hour. Crews are making excellent progress with these small fires. The basic strategy is to hit these new fires hard, keep them small, cut fire line to secure them, mop up, carefully monitor, and move on to attack newly located fires. These fires are being staffed by priority, based on the fire´s potential to develop into a large and damaging wildland fire.

Kaunert says, generally speaking, those fires at lower elevations have more potential due to heavier fuels, while those at very high elevations have less potential due to sparse fuels and higher levels of moisture. As new fires are detected, they are prioritized and attacked.

The current fire weather prediction calls for potential thunderstorm activity through this weekend, with a potential for patches of slight precipitation and possible dry lighting in areas of the northern Sierra Nevada. The Forest is gearing up with the staffing necessary to address existing and new fires that may arise as a result of yesterday´s storm, current conditions, and predicted weather.