Trina Kleist
Staff Writer

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September 11, 2011
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Thunderstorms, fires over weekend; storms possible this week


A chance of thunderstorms continues tonight through Tuesday night for the Sierra Nevada and Nevada County foothills, after more than 15,500 lightning strikes in California and Nevada on Saturday sparked some fires.

Strikes from an unusual storm system - combining hot, dry, north winds with moisture from the south - clobbered the mountain and desert areas of Southern California and Southern Nevada, where several fires started Friday and Saturday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

In the Tahoe National Forest, lightning that touched ground between 12 and 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon ignited two small fires, forest spokeswoman Ann Westling said Sunday.

At French Meadows dam spillway, a single large tree was "engulfed in flame," Westling said. Engines and a hand crew responded to what was dubbed the French Fire.

Crews monitored the tree, which was too large for them to safely attack, and waited for it to be substantially burned so they could take safe action, Westling said. The status of the fire late Sunday was not available.

The Mears Fire, near Mears Meadow, 4 miles south of Interstate 80 (south of Cisco Butte and Lake Valley Reservoir) spread to one-quarter of an acre, Westling reported. Two engines, a hand crew, a helicopter and air attack responded, containing it late Saturday, she added.

"Spotty precipitation from light to very heavy has been experienced across the forest," Westling said. But despite the damp, fire crews remained on alert for "sleepers," or tiny fires that smolder for hours or even days before exploding into flames.

"I'm expecting some fires to pop up today," Westling said Sunday.

The Scott Fire, near Loma Rica in Yuba County, drew responders from local Calfire units and from Butte, Lincoln and Wheatland fire agencies to an 18-acre grass blaze, Calfire reported. The fire started at 3:23 p.m. Saturday, though it not be confirmed whether lightning sparked it. One person was reported injured.

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To contact Senior Staff Writer Trina Kleist, e-mail tkleist@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4230.


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The Union Updated Sep 11, 2011 09:17PM Published Sep 11, 2011 09:16PM Copyright 2011 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.