Mosquito fire grows past 50,000 acres in ‘historically dry’ brush as another blaze ignites west of Tahoe
A wildfire that’s grown to 50,000 acres and is now threatening communities west of Lake Tahoe was sparked by a lightning strike, but officials expect to be able to control it, after a fast-moving thunderstorm caused the fire to grow. A lightning bolt ignites a wildfire in the Feather River near the town of Eureka in Siskiyou County.
Tahoe National Forest officials said Tuesday night they had started an investigation into the cause of the fire, which they now expect to be able to control within the next few days.
“There has been a lightning strike and that is what has ignited this fire,” said John Macdonald, a National Forest spokesman. “That’s what led us to believe that it’s really likely that we’ll be able to get this fire contained in the next day or so.”
Officials said the fire began on Saturday and grew over the course of the afternoon and evening, despite the presence of National Weather Service forecasters warning of the possibility of gusty winds and showers.
“It was the lightning strike that set it off,” said Bob Kline, a forest supervisor in the Sierra-Nevada National Forests.
Firefighters said they could hear thunder and the ground shakes before their efforts to battle the blaze could even started.
“When you get this type of lightning strike, you see this heat,” Kline said. “It was a one-in-a-million chance of a lightning strike occurring and doing that damage on that much timber.”
Officials said firefighters have so far been unable to contain the blaze. Officials could not specify how large the fire has grown because of uncertainty over the wind-speed data, which has been hampered by a fire that continues to burn in areas of Lake County to the north of the blaze.
The fire has burned across more than 20,000 acres, which officials described as a “historic dry” fire.
“This fire is not in any way unusual,” said John Macdonald, a National Forest spokesman. “You get lightning strikes, you get dry lightning strikes,