Nearly 11,000 Lightning Strikes Occur Across California Causing Mass Amounts of Fires

Roan Kazmierowski, Business and Managing Editor

 Nearly 11,000 lightning strikes occurred throughout California beginning on August 16, lasting 72 hours. The lightning-ignited several hundred fires across California, destroying buildings, houses, and wildlife.

The lightning storm was the product of the Tropical Storm Fausto, which was moving across the Pacific Ocean. Wind pushed the storm into Northern California where the storm was confronted with a strong heatwave. 

“Over the past 72 hours, California has experienced a historic lightning siege,” division chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Jeremy Rahn said in an interview with ABC News.

According to Rahn, over 10,849 lightning strikes occurred, causing 367 fires. California State Governor, Gavin Newsom stated that of those fires, 23 are significant/complex fires. 3 of those complex fires are in the Bay Area. 14,000 firefighters or 96% of California’s fire fighting force scattered across California to combat the wildfires. Statewide, over 1 million acres burned, destroying 1,200 buildings and endangering another 30,000. 200,000 people remain displaced and seven killed. 

Newsom declared a statewide emergency, asking for support from Canada and Australia. Firefighters from AZ, OR, NV, WA, TX, IA, UT, and MT began to arrive on August 21.

Due to the latest storm and the smoke, many fled after the possibility of another lightning storm scheduled to strike the Bay Area last Sunday. Additionally, air quality surpassed healthy levels at 100 US AQI, reaching over 200 US AQI in Contra Costa County. Many were advised to not go outside and to not participate in outdoor physical activity during this time.

“My family and I wanted to escape the smoke and the possibility of a fire, so we took a road trip down to San Diego,” junior Joe Gonzales said. 

Fire crews say it could take weeks to extinguish all the flames, so Northern Californians can expect smoke until these fires are smothered. In an interview by the San Francisco Chronicle, Cindy Palmer, a National Weather Service meteorologist said more thunderstorms in Northern California are unlikely, but she wouldn’t rule it out.

“If we get a couple of more storms off of Baja, it could happen again,” Palmer said.