Friday, August 12, 2022
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Fires, Car Crashes, Mudslides and Power Outages: Lightning and Rain Strain Mendocino County First Responders This Afternoon

Mendocino County resident Elias Laughton captured a dramatic lightning strike and his son in awe of the phenomena while facing east from McNab Ranch.

Proving the National Weather Service’s predictions true, afternoon lightning struck across Mendocino County skies sending first responders to far-flung places of the North County addressing fires, vehicle collisions, power outages, and even mudslides.


Proving the National Weather Service’s predictions true, afternoon lightning struck across Mendocino County skies, and as of 4:41 p.m., fire agencies are responding to multiple vegetation fires caused by the storm. 

Fortunately, in many cases, firefighters have reported that fires have “put themselves out” due to the significant moisture brought about by the storm system.

A first responder told dispatch he saw “multiple smokes showing” on the east side of the Willits Valley.

At 5:17 p.m., a firefighter said over the radio they were “playing wack-a-mole” as they were driving to each reported fire. He added that not every report received is necessarily a fire.

The storm system that hit Mendocino County this afternoon threw lightning, rain, and hail towards the Earth [Picture from the Alert Fire Camera on the Ridgewood grade.

One firefighter said he would be patrolling Brooktrails on foot due to the fact first responders did not have access to aircraft at the time

One fire reportedly “put itself out” after starting in grasses because of the ambient moisture after this afternoon’s rains.

Firefighters were searching the 10000 block of Hearst Road east of Willits. A firefighter searching for the vegetation fire told the dispatcher he was unable to locate the fire.

The Subaru Forester that plowed into vegetation north of Willits [Picture provided by a reader]

Redwood Valley Fire was dispatched to a 3×3 spot fire along Highway 101 near mile marker 36. Locals were reportedly on the scene of the vegetation fire.

A tree is reportedly on fire located approximately between 3900-4400 Mirror Mill Road. Similarly, near the 3000 block of Ridgewood Road, there are reports of a single tree on fire due to a lightning strike.

Car Crashes

This afternoon’s lightning and rains have strained resources, possibly causing at least four traffic collisions.

The four notable car crashes occurred in North County. One vehicle reportedly struck a mudslide on Highway 101 along the Willits Grade just south of Ridgewood summit. Another vehicle went off the roadway into a power pole reportedly caused by a lightning strike. A head-on collision on Highway 20 required an air ambulance and there are reports of major injuries. Also, a Subaru Forester reportedly slid off the roadway into a tree north of Willits

Power Outages

As per the PG&E Power Outage Map, hundreds of north county residents are without power near Willits proper, sections of Brooktrails, and in the hills northeast of Willits. 



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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFever
Picking Brains—Baring Bones—Playing it By Ear: I'm a reporter in Mendocino County and the Founder of MendoFever.

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