Lightning strikes early Saturday ignited at least a half-dozen brush fires in the Los Padres National Forest, and firefighters had contained three of them by tonight but were still attacking three others.
Crews planned to search through the night and Sunday for any new fires igniting from earlier lightning strikes known as “sleepers,” said Andrew Madsen, Forest Service spokesman.
“They don’t just immediately burst into flames,” he said. “With the right conditions then they kind of get going.”
Madsen said around 6 p.m. today that the six fires in the local segment of the Los Padres National Forest were collectively referred to as the Santa Lucia District Lightning Complex.
They had not caused injuries or damaged structures.
One of the blazes burning on Figueroa Mountain Road and referred to as the Goat Fire, had been threatening structures. However, it was contained to 80 acres at 2 p.m. today, according to Madsen.
Still burning uncontained tonight were the Hurricane Fire between Manzana Creek and Sisquoc River in the San Rafael Wilderness with 75 acres scorched, the Buckhorn Fire near Sheep Canyon at 50 acres, and the Quarry Fire near Colson Canyon with 10 acres burned.
The biggest concern was the Hurricane Fire, Madsen said.
“It’s in the wilderness, so that makes fire suppression a little more tricky because we can’t just roll up to it with our engines,” he explained.
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The Quarry Fire was also difficult to get to, Madsen said, and helicopters were helping with that fire fight.
The three uncontained blazes were burning in woodsy areas away from most structures, Madsen said.
He said aircraft helping fight the fires was headquartered at a tanker base set up at the Santa Maria Public Airport.
Personnel and resources with Cal Fire and the Santa Barbara County Fire Department were assisting the U.S. Forest Service with the fire fight.
Additional fire crews were on hand Saturday because lightning strikes and sundowner winds were predicted, according to Madsen.
Firefighters were monitoring a total of 12 lightning-sparked fires between Frazier Park and Figueroa Mountain, he noted.
As of 4 p.m. today, 24-hour rainfall totals included 0.09 for Santa Maria and Pismo Beach, 0.11 in New Cuyama and .06 at Port San Luis, according to the National Weather Service.
A 20 percent chance of thunderstorms will persist through Tuesday night in the region, according to National Weather Service forecasters.
Daytime temperatures in the Santa Maria and Lompoc valleys are expected to be mild, in the upper 60s and lower 70s, in the coming days.