Firefighters battling lightning-sparked blazes in Northern California get help from light rain

Aug 17, 2023, 3:07 PM

In this photo provided by Caltrans, smoke and flames rise from the Smith River Complex Fire next to...

In this photo provided by Caltrans, smoke and flames rise from the Smith River Complex Fire next to the closed U.S. Route 199 in Gasquet, Calif., on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. (Caltrans via AP)

(Caltrans via AP)

HAMBURG, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters battling lightning-sparked blazes in northwest California got some help from wet weather, authorities said Thursday.

The Head Fire, the largest of more than 20 that ignited in the Klamath National Forest this week, remained at approximately 5.5 square miles (14.2 square kilometers) after light rain overnight moderated its behavior, the U.S. Forest Service said in a statement.

Evacuation orders and warnings for the very lightly populated area remained in place.

The fires were sparked over several days as unstable air brought thunderstorms and lightning to the region just south of Oregon. The Head Fire experienced rapid growth on Tuesday.

The National Weather Service posted red flag warnings for fire danger again Thursday, advising of “abundant lightning on dry fuels.”

To the west, the Smith River Complex of fires in Six Rivers National Forest totaled 6.25 square miles (16.2 square kilometers). Morning rain had also been expected there.

A section of U.S. 199 closed due to the fire.

The complex fires were among many ignited across the forest and the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation after more than 150 lightning strikes since Tuesday. Most of the fires remained small.

A slew of other lightning-caused fires were reported this week in Northern California, including in Mendocino County, Shasta-Trinity National Forest and the Tahoe area, although most were small and quickly contained, fire officials said.

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Firefighters battling lightning-sparked blazes in Northern California get help from light rain