Lightning bolts spark wildfires |

Lightning bolts spark wildfires

Isaac Brambila

Firefighters were active during the weekend as lightning strikes filled the skies over the Tahoe Basin, causing small wildfires in some areas.

U.S. Forest Service crews worked to extinguish nine small fires, most of them single-tree fires with some ground consumption, according to a U.S. Forest Service press release. The largest fire was a half-acre. No structures were reported threatened as a result of the fires.

Five fires were reported in the wilderness area east of George Whittell High School, one in the wilderness area east of Cave Rock and one more southeast of Logan Shoals Vista Point. There was one more small fire on the North Shore. The fires were scattered in hike-in only terrain. A helicopter assisted with reconnaissance and water drops.

Winds were calm, and the Lake Tahoe Basin received substantial rainfall in the area of the fires, so the rate of spread was low, a press release stated. The Forest Service staffed all nine fires with the assistance of Tahoe-Douglas and North Lake Tahoe fire protection districts.

As a reminder, the U.S. Forest Service urged the public not to fly Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), also known as “drones,” within or near wildfires to ensure firefighter safety and the effectiveness of suppression operations.

Aerial firefighting aircrafts, such as airtankers and helicopters, fly at low altitudes, typically just a couple of hundred feet above the ground, the same as drones flown by members of the public, creating the potential for a mid-air collision that could seriously injure or kill aerial and/or ground firefighters, according to a second press release. As a result, firefighting aircrafts operations are suspended when drones are detected in the area.

On Thursday, airtanker operations were suspended on the Sterling Fire in the San Bernardino National Forest because of drone activity.

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