Lightning Sparks Fires as Winds Fell Power Lines Throughout the Region in Rare Summer Storm

UPDATE: At 2:35pm, Calfire tweeted that a new blaze known as the Marsh Fire had grown to 585 acres and had become three separate fires in the area of Arroyo Hondo Road and Oakridge Road in the Diablo Mountain Range in Santa Clara County.

Calfire first announced the wildfire about 74 minutes earlier, when it was just 120 acres. Other fires have been burning in Santa CruzContra Costa and Stanislaus counties since a rare summer thunderstorm that swept the Bay Area Sunday.

Just as the sun began to rise this morning, lightning set a palm tree on fire near downtown San Jose, torched a couple apartment units in the city’s Berryessa district and sparked blazes in the nearby foothills.

Forecasters warned of dry lightning, but the weather that materialized before dawn today—in the middle of a drawn-out heat wave—were stronger and wetter than anticipated.

The National Weather Service (NWS) recorded hundreds of lightning strikes throughout the region, prompting a Red Flag Warning for severe fire danger throughout the Bay Area and surrounding regions through the early part of this week.

“Any lightning strikes will likely lead to new fire starts, given the current heat wave,” NWS weather forecasters cautioned. “A secondary pulse of moisture and instability arrives later Sunday into early Monday.”

In Santa Clara County, firefighters fought to contain a blaze sparked by downed power lines around 3am in an unincorporated area off of Brush Road by Highway 17. About 20 residents had to be evacuated from their homes during the three hours it took for county firefighters to quell the flames, which burned just over an acre.

In a tweet this morning, Calfire reported that its crews responded to about a dozen fires fro 1 to 7am in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties alone.

“Most presumed to have started from lightning strikes,” Calfire officials wrote in the Twitter update. “Forward progress has been stopped on most of these fires. We’re working to get more resources, stretched thin due to heavy fire activity.”

Farther south, around Salinas in Monterey County, firefighters were still battling a 20-acre blaze that was about 20 percent contained by 10:30am, Calfire reported.

Meanwhile, high winds felled PG&E lines, causing blackouts throughout the region—from the North Bay and down through the Central Coast. Major outages left 15,000 households in Sonoma County without power earlier today, as well as 8,000 in Marin County, 6,000 in and around Hayward and 4,000 in the South Bay, utility officials said.

Even though the storms brought a burst of cooler air and rain, the triple-digit heat wave is expected to persist through at least Wednesday, per the NWS.


  1. Great job San José Fire Department!

    San José Firefighters and Police Officers are not paid well enough to keep them in San José. Other jurisdictions continue to “scooping them up.”

    San José Firefighters and Police Officers should be paid more.

    For a source of extra funding for San José Fire and Police;

    Eliminate the Housing Department in its’ entirety and their cabal of; predatory, pernicious, and parasitic Non-profit and or Public Benefit Corporations which feed lavishly on the taxpayer’s trough.

    The “trough” is symbolized as overly generous, non-competitive, contracts; immune from Public Record Requests and apparently performance and financial audits.

    Non-profit and or Public Benefit Corporations should be re-evaluated as “profit centers” and should be taxed.

    Non-profit and or Public Benefit Corporations only serve to enable and exacerbate “homelessness” to their respective corporate and personal benefit(s).

    Again, Great job San José Fire Department!

    David S. Wall

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *