Multiple fires ignited in California following tens of thousands of lightning strikes

A woman and her two dogs were killed by lightning in Pico Rivera

8:15 a.m. PDT June 24, 2022

Map Thunder Fire 4:30 p.m. PDT June 23, 2022
Map of the Thunder Fire, 4:30 p.m. PDT June 23, 2022, near the Grapevine on Interstate 5 in Southern California. Looking south-southeast

It is still possible that some of the 50,000+ lightning strikes in California on Wednesday and Thursday could have started fires that are undetected, very small, and smouldering, but so far most of the blazes that have been reported have been contained, or very close to it. The lack of numerous huge fires in the wake of the lightning is likely due to the rain that accompanied the strikes in some areas, high relative humidity, and it being fairly early in the fire season before fuel moistures drop to critical levels.

The largest has been the Thunder Fire (see map above) just west of the Grapevine on Interstate 5 north of Frazier Park. The official cause has not yet been released, but lightning is suspected said Captain Andrew Freeborn of the Kern County Fire Department. Friday morning it was 2,466 acres and had 311 personnel assigned.

The Romero Fire was reported Thursday afternoon in Merced County near Santa Nella, five miles south of Highway 152. As of early Friday morning it had burned 422 acres of grass and is 100 percent contained. The cause has not been released.

Five other fires in the greater Bay Area have burned 26 to 522 acres; firefighters so far have not had much difficulty in stopping the spread of those incidents.

On Thursday the reported wildfire activity in Southern California was, CAL FIRE, 33 fires; County and local, 14 fires; and US Forest Service, 6 fires. It is not known how many of these can be attributed to lightning.

7:42 a.m. PDT June 23, 2022

lightning map California Arizona New Mexico
Lightning, during the 24 hours ending at 6:15 a.m. PDT June 23, 2022.

As monsoonal moisture moved through Southern California Wednesday more than 50,000 lightning strikes were detected, starting wildfires and killing a woman and her two dogs who were walking in Pico Rivera.

Chris Vagasky, @COweatherman, tweeted that a total of 54,329 strikes were recorded across California on Wednesday UTC time.

Thunder Fire map
Map showing heat detected on the Thunder Fire by satellites as late as 3:51 a.m. MDT June 23, 2022.

Multiple fires suspected of being started by lightning occurred in Southern California, with most of them being suppressed while very small. The cause of the Thunder Fire east of Interstate 5 near the Grapevine north of Frazier Park is under investigation, but the suspected cause is lightning, said Captain Andrew Freeborn of the Kern County Fire Department. At 6:45 a.m. Thursday the Department reported it had burned approximately 2,300 acres and was being staffed by 250 personnel.

Small fires on the Angeles National Forest were being worked overnight by firefighters assisted by night-flying helicopters.

Rain fell in some areas, but it was spotty.

Precipitation, 48-hours, 730 a.m. June 23, 2022 southern California