Lightning strikes spark major fires in Fresno County

Unusual weekend storm brings lightning to Fresno County, sparking various fires in the region

(Rigo Moran)
Derek Fleming
Published June 26, 2024  • 
10:30 am

SANGER – Lightning was seen throughout Fresno County in a recent storm, with strikes igniting at least five fires in dry brush areas in the foothills. 

Most of the fires were quickly brought under control on June 24 but Cal-Fire reports that not all of the fires have been contained as of Monday afternoon. The Flash Fire ignited near Kings Canyon Road and Cove Road and is 15% contained as of Monday. It has burned 982 acres. The Bolt Fire has also burned 1,742 acres and is 10% contained. The two fires are burning close enough to be fought as one fire but have not merged. There are no reports of structure loss. 

“We have over 200 people combined for both the Flash and Bolt Fires,”  Gary Thompson with Cal-Fire said in an interview with The Mid-Valley Times. “There are a number of aircraft working both fires. We have engines, hand crews, dozers and fire crews from multiple Central Valley agencies on the ground.”

Another fire called the Hog Fire ignited on the morning of June 25 and has burned 60 acres and is 0% contained. That fire is also believed to be caused by lightning. About 60 personnel are currently working the blaze which started near Watts Valley Road Hog Mountain Fire Road.  

The two major fires, the Flash Fire and the Bolt Fire, are both burning in areas with scattered residential areas. Evacuation orders are in place in the area near where the fires are burning. About 30 residents have been evacuated and evacuation warnings are in place in the area around the Flash Fire complex. 

The fires are burning in areas of dry brush and steep canyons that Cal-Fire says lack access roads, making the task of containing the fires more challenging. Fire retardant-dropping aircraft and helicopters are aiding fire crews on the ground as they work to bring the blazes under control. Cal-Fire reported earlier today that they have seen numerous small grass fires ignited in the last several weeks. The Flash and Bolt fires have been the largest so far. 

In a public service announcement posted on June 25, Cal-Fire reminds residents who live in areas where fires are likely to remember the “Six-Ps” to be prepared in case of mandatory evacuations; pets, papers, prescriptions, personal computers, plastic such as credit or debit cards, and to make videos of personal possessions should an insurance claim become necessary. 

There is currently no estimate available as to when the fires will be brought under control as crews continue to deal with windy, dry conditions and high temperatures that allow the fires to spread.

Derek Fleming