Ugly consequences of beautiful light show

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Fresno County firefighters followed 16 fires caused by lightning Wednesday, enough that they struggled to keep up on the ground. (KFSN)

Fresno County firefighters followed 16 fires caused by lightning Wednesday, enough that they struggled to keep up on the ground.

They watched for more Thursday, as well as undetected trouble still lingering. A beautiful, electrical light show in the sky delivered something much uglier on the ground.

Charred black earth is the mark lightning left in several spots, especially up in the foothills, and while it didn't hit any homes Wednesday, the impact was felt in many living rooms.

"Just a big explosion and once it exploded, the power went out," said Peter Scianna of Prather.


Scianna was watching the storm, but the lightning strike just 50 yards from his home still caught him by surprise. And as it spread from a power pole down the line in his direction, his family sprung into action.

"My sons and myself and my neighbor put it out," Sciana said. "It was out by the time the fire department got here."

Lightning fires popped up quickly, keeping Fresno County firefighters so busy they had to prioritize which fires to attack and which might be able to wait. They brought in extra firefighters for Thursday's storms, as did the U.S. Forest Service. But even as they prepare for one day's storms, they're concerned about what the last may have left behind.

"Because of their remote locations, the conditions we have, the drought, and the high temperatures we've been experiencing, have the potential to -- as the temperatures increase during the day -- go from a smoldering fire to an active fire," said CAL FIRE Fresno Capt. Ryan Michaels.

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weatherlightningstormstorm damagePrather
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