BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – It is officially summer in the Central Valley, and to mark the change of season, Mother Nature delivered an early morning wake-up call today with thunder, lightning and rain.
The weather spectacle is bringing with it cloudy weather accompanied by a heat wave that will stick around through the end of the week. Rolling in with the storm is a concern as we enter what’s expected to be another tough fire season.
Captain Andrew Freeborn with the Kern County Fire Department believes that “as soon as lightning hits,” danger has already sparked as “there is a potential that it already started a fire.”
Lightning strikes early Wednesday morning caused several fires across Kern County.
“We are already in drought conditions,” said Freeborn. “Everything is very dry, you are not getting the rain but you are getting the lightning.”
Firefighters are quickly battling blazes as several trees went up in flames around town. One palm tree caught fire on Pesante Road in East Bakersfield and forced residents to evacuate from their homes briefly.
“County firefighters are going everywhere trying to put these fires out,” said Freeborn. “Many of the fires that already started are small in size but we are putting them out quickly and moving on to the next one.”
As the storm moves north, firefighters are keeping a close eye on particular regions in Eastern Kern County, desert areas, the mountains near Tehachapi and the Grapevine area.
The Grapevine has already seen two fires most likely caused by lightning. By Wednesday evening, combined more than 100 acres have burned.
Freeborn says safety is of the utmost importance during this season.
“When thunder roars go indoors,” said Freeborn. “You may think that lightning is far away but it can get you.”
In the desert, a Ridgecrest man now recovers at a hospital after lightning struck him in the head and exited through his feet while on a walk with his child and dog. His condition is still unknown.
KCFD has multiple crews on watch at hotspots in Eastern and southern Kern County. Air resources have been requested from neighboring counties.”
This is the time of year where we are seeing the hot weather,” said Freeborn. “This is the time of year where if a fire starts we are going to see very powerful, erratic fire behavior.”