Monsoon storms bring lightning, ignitions result

Monsoon storms bring lightning, ignitions result
Lightning (Source: Greg McCown)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - As monsoon storms move into southeastern Arizona, lightning strikes present the potential to ignite wildfires. Precipitation may or may not accompany lightning during these early stages of "monsoon season."

"Dry lightning" is typical on Coronado National Forest this time of year. Fire managers prepare for it, and firefighters are ready to respond to fires.

On July 8, thunderstorms with lightning moved across the Santa Catalina Mountains, causing three ignitions. Firefighters assisted by aircraft responded quickly to evaluate and act on each incident.

The Bear Fire, near Bigelow Road, has been lined and suppressed at .1 acre. Values at risk included communications towers and other electronic equipment.

The Fern Ridge Fire, one-half mile northwest of Mt. Lemmon/Ski Valley, has been lined and suppressed at 1.5 acres. Values at risk included Mt. Lemmon/Ski Valley, University of Arizona SkyCenter, and the Iron Door Restaurant.

A third fire, the Crystal Springs Fire, is burning below Aspen Vista Point. The size is estimated at .1 acre, and the fire exhibits very little activity. Fuels are sparse with low potential for spread and include dead-and-down trees burned during the 2002 Bullock Fire.

The area is unsafe to insert firefighters due to steep and rugged terrain. No structures or recreation sites are threatened. The fire is in monitor status. Firefighters are ready to take action should the conditions change and warrant direct action.

Due to the spotty nature of monsoon moisture, Coronado National Forest remains in Stage 2 Fire Restrictions. While rainfall has occurred on some areas of the Forest, other areas remain dry.

Significant precipitation is needed to reduce dryness and flammability of forest fuels. Conditions are evaluated on a daily basis. Fire restrictions will be lifted when adequate rain has fallen across the Forest to reduce the threat of wildfire.

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