Lightning might have been a boon to Benjamin Franklin, but it kept fire crews busy Sunday, July 20 as strikes caused five fires in North Summit alone.
Of course, lightning is often accompanied by precipitation, so periods of heavy rain kept the fires from spreading.
At about 4 p.m., crews from the North Summit Fire District responded to a report of a brush fire at mile marker 25 on State Route 32 between Rockport Reservoir and State Route 23, said Tyler Rowser, public information officer for the district.
They were able to contain the fire to under one-third of an acre, said Rowser, and it, as were the other four that day, was determined to be caused by lightning.
As the crew finished fighting that fire, at about 5 p.m., another fire was reported off Icy Springs Road in Coalville. Firefighters found one tree on fire, and nearly immediately received a report of a third fire in the mountains east of Wanship. Not more than three minutes later, Rowser said, crews working the Icy Springs fire noticed a fourth fire burning on the east side of Coalville. The three latter fires were contained to a single tree and some light material on the ground around them.
During these responses, Morgan County also requested a wild-land engine from North Summit to assist with a fire in its county.
As the fourth fire was put out, a fifth fire dubbed the Harris Canyon Fire was reported on the east bench of Henefer, Rowser said.
On Monday, North Summit crews worked hot spots in the fifth area from noon to about sundown, with North Summit Fire Chief Ken Smith saying that with the dangerous drought conditions, the area was in danger from igniting again.
Rowser said that responding to two or three lightning strikes in the summer is not rare, but five at nearly the same time can be unusual. Smith said that when those types of weather patterns occur, his personnel know to expect lightning fires. Many of them were already at the station when the first fire happened, he added.
Some North Summit personnel responded to another fire Sunday night in Morgan County, Smith said. A lightning strike in Weber Canyon, about five miles upriver from the city of Morgan, caused a fire that consumed nearly 1,000 acres by Tuesday at noon, said Jason Curry, public information officer for the state Forestry, Fire & State Lands division. It was zero percent contained at that time, Curry said.
North Summit Fire District reminds residents of how quickly fires can start and spread during the drought conditions, and that unincorporated Summit County has firework and fire restrictions in place for Pioneer Day and the rest of the summer.
Local firefighters will be on high alert this week. There is a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon on Wednesday, July 22, with a southeast wind up to 15 mph becoming south southwest in the afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.
Residents are urged to report any possible fires by calling 911.