Matthew Renda

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July 23, 2012
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Tahoe/Truckee fire officials on alert as hundreds of lightning strikes pelt region

NEVADA COUNTY — A multitude of lightning strikes have caused the outbreak of 22 minor fires in the Tahoe National Forest, U.S. Forest Service officials said Monday.

The 22 fires are scattered throughout the national forest and some resulted from 571 lightning strikes that occurred early Monday morning, said Ann Westling, spokeswoman for Tahoe National Forest. Ten of the fires are listed as contained or controlled as of 5:30 p.m.

All fires are in remote areas of the forest, with most of them minor in nature — the largest of which is one acre and a half, Westling said.

“A good number of the fires consist of one tree burning the surrounding brush,” Westling said.

The total number of fires and access difficulties have placed constraints on forest service firefighters, Westling said.

“We strategize about how to get the maximum coverage with our resources,” Westling said. “We break our crews into squads and allow them to tackle the smaller fires.”

About 150 firefighters are currently deployed throughout the forest. No injuries have been reported, Westling said.

Weather forecasters predicted additional thunderstorms for Monday evening, with the majority hitting east of the Sierra crest, with some scattered but heavy precipitation falling through the entire forest, Westling said.

Twelve fires had been spotted Monday in the American River District east of Foresthill, with three displaying smoke along Deadwood Ridge; two near Duncan Peak; one near Sugarloaf Mountain near Sugar Pine Reservoir and one in vicinity to Devil's Peak.

Furthermore, a fire was also burning near Big Oak Flat, three more burned on the north side of the North Fork of the American River near Helester Point/Snow Mountain and another was spotted near China Wall.

There are five fires burning in the Sierraville and Truckee districts, with one near Anderson Peak, south of Interstate 80 along the summit, two more in Antelope Valley northeast of Sierraville, two near Webber Peak and one in the Dark Canyon, due east of Sierraville.

A variety of other smoke sightings have been reported and crews were out in search of the blazes.

Two fires have been reported in the Yuba River District, one south of Bullards Bar Reservoir Dam that was listed as contained, while the other was burning near the town of Pike, north of Nevada County.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jul 23, 2012 09:04PM Published Jul 23, 2012 12:49PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.