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Rare summer thunderstorms in California bring wildfire fears to Bay Area

Team Coverage: Rare summer thunderstorms in California bring wildfire fears across Bay Area
Team Coverage: Rare summer thunderstorms in California bring wildfire fears across Bay Area 03:28

SAN FRANCISCO – As monsoonal moisture brought rare thunderstorms to parts of California on Wednesday, firefighters and communities across the Bay Area were on heightened alert as memories of the massive wildfires two years ago remain fresh.

The Lightning Complex fires in the summer of 2020 burned more than 845,000 acres and took 23 lives.

Fire departments have been carefully watching the monsoonal thunderstorm system and the damage it's done already in Southern and Central California.

Heavy downpours and lightening hit Soledad, south of Salinas, Wednesday night. An Alert Wildfire camera also captured a lightning strike on Mount Helen in San Benito County.

A lightning strike near Mount Helen in San Benito County on June 22, 2022. Alert Wildfire / PG&E

KPIX 5 meteorologist Paul Heggen said no lightning strikes have been reported in the Bay Area as of late Wednesday night.

Santa Rosa Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal told KPIX 5, "Really any risk right now is something we're going to definitely pay attention to."

And it's not just for crews in the North Bay. To the east, Contra Costa Fire has pre-positioned its resources as it uses weather models to predict where fires may potentially occur.

Steve Hill with ConFire told KPIX 5, "We often say that every one of these fires that we have here in Contra Costa County is caused by some type of human activity. And there's one exception to that and that's what you asked about, dry lightning."

Unfortunately, fire departments are not only battling Mother Nature but also that human activity as well.

ConFire announced Wednesday that a fire in Pittsburg on June 17 which threatened roughly 100 homes was caused by fireworks. Luckily no homes were lost, but neighbors are concerned the threat isn't over.

Allison, a neighbor, told KPIX 5, "I heard the fireworks going off last night and was really worried about it."

As the 4th of July holiday approaches, ConFire is reminding the community any type of firework is not only illegal but extremely dangerous.

"The dry conditions make it a little worse. They're just very, very dangerous and we're playing with fire literally, putting property and homes at risk," Hill said.


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