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LNU Lightning Complex an especially demanding battle for 'stretched thin' firefighters

Firefighters have a demanding job every fire season, but officials say the LNU Complex has been especially tough due to complications from rare lightning ignition.

CALISTOGA, Calif. — A storm out of the ordinary has caused fire complexes like none before.

Lightning caused around 60 fires to ignite the LNU Lightning Complex, which has now burned more than 350,000 acres.

"That stretched resources really thin with all that initial attack response to those fires," said CAL FIRE Public Information Officer Will Powers.

Firefighters are feeling the impact of trying to suppress a fire of this magnitude. Some have been out in the elements, battling flames for well over a week with little sleep.

"In the beginning, crews [had to pull] two, three shifts in a row to get out there and protect those communities," said Powers.

The lightning also started some fires in remote, hard-to-reach areas. Powers said getting crews into these spots has been difficult and concerning for their safety. They've had to rely heavily on aerial firefighting.

But even though the fire started in remote areas, it's massive span has now threatened residences. 

CAL FIRE officials said Tuesday that other fires like the SCU Lightning Complex has caused a shortage of resources to fight these fires, but they have slowly started to get some relief as crews across the western United States have deployed to California.

"We have crews coming from Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, and Washington state," said Powers.

During a press conference, CAL FIRE said they now have 304 fire engines, 50 water tankers, 12 helicopters, 18 crews, 41 bulldozers, and 2,194 firefighters. 

For the LNU Lightning Complex, these crews and resources gather at the base camp located at the Calistoga Fairgrounds where they have brief moments to refuel their engines, and themselves, before being deployed.

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