WEST SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – It’s a destructive combination no one, especially fire crews, likes to see: drought and lightning. And the results can be explosive.

“They have already seen some strikes on the ground,” said Cal Fire spokesperson Lynne Tolmachoff.

Fire crews are already battling 10 fires in Northern California. And now they’re on even more high alert as thunderstorms roll in.

“When thunderstorms build up they look like they’re brewing and then what happens is they collapse on themselves and that will push erratic winds down and come out and if that hits the fire it will push the fire out,” Tolmachoff said.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, lightning has sparked 26 wildfires in Northern California since August 1.

“We’ve got one in Mendocino County, we got a number up in Siskiyou County, and more in Lassen, Modpoc and Shasta Counties,” Tolmachoff said.

And they say the drought is making the battle tougher, as dry grass fuels the flames.

With current fires not expected to be fully contained for weeks, fire crews say they’re stretched thin.

“Were getting assistance from the National Guard. They’re out there with helicopters and we’ve deployed 240 hand crews,” Tolmachoff said.

But the battle on the ground is not worth the risk. When thunderstorms are a threat, firefighters say they will leave the fire line if lightning becomes a threat to their safety.

Red flag warnings are still up until tomorrow because of the critical conditions.



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