Lightning ignites fire in palm tree farm

Borrego Springs Fire

“Lone Ranger” sent us a report about a rarely seen vegetation fire that occurred August 21 in Borrego Springs, a desert community 50 miles northeast of San Diego, California.


“It’s a very rare occasion that we get a wildfire anywhere near the valley floor let alone, on it. An intense lightning storm, August 21 mid-morning, gave OV-10 Air Attack 330, and S2-T Tankers T-70 and T-71 out of Ramona Air Attack Base an opportunity to pay Borrego Springs a visit.

One strike ignited an old stand of very tall fan palms at a large palm tree farm. From my property 3 miles away the huge flames and dark column of smoke left no doubt that it was a grove of palm trees. The skirt of dead fronds that adorns the trunk of a fan palm below the green canopy can consist of many tens of very dry and incredibly flammable fronds.
Borrego Springs Fire

Well under 10 acres in the end, this was a compact but intense wildfire warranting a mutual aid response perhaps even before Borrego Springs Fire Department arrived on scene after a 6 or 7 minute drive from their station.

Response included San Diego County Fire, CalFire, San Diego County Sheriff water dropping helicopters, Cleveland NF and, of course, Ramona AA. T-70 and T-71 flew two sorties. The first was split drops and the second was full load drops. It was a short-lived air show but a good air show just the same.

Borrego Springs Fire

It’s amazing that the fire confined itself/was confined to the narrow stand of very tall palms less than 150 feet wide and maybe 1000 feet long while literally 12 feet away to the north and running the length of the fire are about 225 acres of hundreds of 10-20 foot tall densely planted fan palms. There were remains of fire brands scattered throughout.”
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