Lightning Sparks Fire by Windy Point
Photo: Video by kmir6.com
Our extreme weather is being blamed for fires in our local mountains.
Fire officials believe lightning sparked a blaze near Windy Point, west of Palm Springs.
Fire crews will patrol the Windy Fire to make sure it doesn't grow overnight if the winds pick up.
The fire started just before two in the afternoon and grew to 137 acres.
It is now 75 percent contained.
Fire tankers drop retardant on the fire's path, halting its forward movement.
James Jenkins was working nearby at Offroad Rentals when the lightning struck.
"I heard this big loud thunder, and it sounded no more than a few hundred yards away, and I just grazed it off, I was like, okay that's kindof loud," said Jenkins.
But then the smell of smoke started to fill the air.
"I turned around and saw smoke starting to come off the mountain, so I was like, oh that's not good," said Jenkins.
James' grandfather Steven Harris, a longtime Windy Point resident, says sometimes fires come to close for comfort.
"A few times it has come all the way down the mountain, and towards us, and although it doesn't burn well, it moves really fast, and so we've been a little concerned a number of times," said Harris.
Firefighters quickly had the blaze mostly contained, but a fire can spread very quickly in that windy pass through the mountains.
"We've had some very large fires out here, we were fortunate that we did have some rain and some humidity in the area which helped slow the fire down," said Palm Springs Fire Battalion Chief, Jim Webb.
Fire officials say this August is a little drier than normal.
"By August its starting to get pretty dry, our fuel moistures are very low, to the critical stage, fires are hard to control, harder to control than earlier in the year, and of course that will only continue to dry from here," said US Forest Service Battalion Chief, Richard Gearhart.
And that possibility of more fires is a concern for people living in Windy Point.
"If it were to hit on a really windy day, it would spread really fast and it could even set some of the houses on fire, which might turn into a conflagration," said Harris.
So this lightning-sparked fire serves as a reminder that these hot, dry conditions make this a dangerous time of year for fires.
This fire was quickly stopped from spreading, But fire officials say people should check fire restrictions in their area.
And the Riverside County Fire Chief suspended permit burning effective Tuesday morning because of the critical fire weather.