Lone Lightning Strike Suspected of Sparking Stayman Flats Road Fire
A single, isolated lightning strike has become the suspected cause of the Stayman Flats Fire, which is still burning just south of the Chelan Butte.
Meteorologist Rocco Pelotti with the National Weather Service Office (NWS) in Spokane says there was a lightning strike recorded near the ignition point of the fire roughly ten hours before the fire was reported on Monday.
“There was actually one cloud-to-ground lightning strike that was mapped at Stayman Flats Road,” said Pelotti.
The NWS recorded the bolt at just after 5:00 a.m.
Pelotti says he suspects the discharge emanated from a high altitude inside an isolated thunderstorm over the region.
“What I believe happened is this was a bolt from the top of thunderstorm – the anvil - which is usually pretty high up, it’s about 30,000 feet. So it didn’t come out from the rain shaft. Lightning like that is a killer.”
Pelotti says strikes of this nature are more often blamed for injuring or killing people because they are not associated with the rain that typically accompanies a thunderstorm, and therefore, it's less expected to occur.
Department of Natural Resources Public Information Officer, Ryan Rodruck, says the fire’s official cause has yet to be determined, but he also suspects it was the weather that sparked it.
“The cause is always undetermined while the fire is still burning, but it does appear that there was a lightning strike in the area and that is the probable ignition source.”
The blaze has blackened approximately 1,200 acres and prompted numerous evacuation orders.
It's currently listed at 30 percent containment.
No structures have been damaged or destroyed and no injuries have been reported.