Lightning starts new wildfires but moist air aids crews battling blazes in rural NorCal

HAMBURG, Calif. (AP) — Weekend lightning strikes ignited new wildfires near a complex of blazes that have been burning since last week through the Klamath National Forest near California’s border with Oregon, authorities said Monday.
The lightning on Sunday accompanied heavy rain showers that caused mudslides that closed parts of State Route 96, but the wet weather also aided firefighters battling the flames, the U.S. Forest Service said.
“A moister air mass has moved over much of the Klamath today which should moderate fire behavior on any new starts,” the forest service said in a statement.
Dozens of wildfires — most of them tiny — erupted in recent days as thunderstorms brought lightning and downdrafts that drove flames through timber and rural lands.
A 71-year-old man was found dead in his driveway Aug. 16 in the remote community of Scott Bar, near where the largest wildfire, dubbed the Head Fire, broke out just hours earlier, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office said last week. The death was under investigation.
The Head Fire was part of the 16-square-mile (41-square-kilometer) Happy Camp Complex of blazes that destroyed nine structures and were threatening 1,600 others. There was zero containment.
Firefighters were working to protect homes near the confluence of the Scott and Klamath rivers, a very lightly populated area about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the California-Oregon state line and about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of Mt. Shasta.
The Klamath National Forest sprawls over more than 2,650 square miles (6,860 square kilometers) in Northern California and Southern Oregon.
A slew of other lightning-caused fires were burning in Northern California including the Smith River Complex, which charred nearly 48 square miles (124 square kilometers) of forest in Del Norte County.
To the south in Santa Barbara County, the 8.5-square-mile (22-square-kilometer) Plant Fire, which erupted Saturday near New Cuyama, was 60% contained. All evacuation orders were lifted as of Monday.