Thunderstorms could hit Valley this week, CAL FIRE braces for wildfires

With temperatures rising and the chances of a storm in the forecast, firefighters say they can never be too prepared.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- High heat and dry conditions bring fears of fire.

The potential for thunderstorms producing dry lightning this week have Valley firefighters preparing to put out any wildfires that might spark.

A strike team is in Coalinga, which has the potential to get hit with dry lightning on Wednesday and Thursday.

The team is made up of about 30 firefighters from two different CAL FIRE units.

"With the opportunity for dry lightning to present itself, we have to have the resources there and available to respond to help us mitigate any fire that may start," said Dan Urias with CAL FIRE.

30 to 35 firefighters from around the state will be stationed there for the next few nights - it's where CAL FIRE has determined the risk is greatest.

"The Coalinga area is littered with areas of dry grass, brush that is in critical fuel moisture levels," said Urias.

Just two years ago, the dry grass in the Coalinga area contributed to two fires - the Mineral Fire in July of 2020 and the Hills Fire in August of 2020.

"Something as simple as a dry lightning start could spell disaster for the communities in the Coalinga area," said Urias.

That's why this strike team was assembled of firefighters from the Merced, Mariposa, Madera and Tuolumne-Calaveras Units.

With temperatures rising and the chances of a storm in the forecast, firefighters say they can never be too prepared.

"In the Fresno-Kings unit, we have nine wildland fire stations with 13 engines ever ready for any potential fire threat in Fresno County," said Urias.

As summer goes on, CAL FIRE will move similar strike teams to different parts of the state as they anticipate increased fire risk.

CAL FIRE says without this strike team, if a fire did spark in Coalinga this week, it could take upwards of an hour to get the additional fire crews needed to fight the flames.

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