OCEANSIDE, Calif. – Firefighters in Oceanside battled a brush fire Thursday they say was started by a lightning strike.
Neighbor Billy Galizio was on her daily walk when she heard the thunder and lightning crack.
“There was this huge boom,” Galizio said. “I jumped out of my skin almost and kept on walking toward home and when I got to the corner I turned around and saw this big ball of fire where that tree was just ablaze.”
Several trees as well as brush and grass behind homes on Auburn Avenue were ablaze when crews arrived. They battled flames up to 50 feet in the air, working quickly to defend homes and keep the fire from spiraling out of control.
The fire burned about a quarter of an acre of brush and trees, the Oceanside Fire Department said.
“Families were scared,” witness Daniel Hong said. “People were frightened, but all the police officers and firefighters came and did their job.”
No injuries were reported in the fire and no homes were damaged. Sections of rear fencing along some homes on Auburn Avenue were damaged as well as some gates firefighters broke through to gain access to the area, the department said.
Battalion Chief Jessamyn Specht said that fires caused by lightning are rare in the city.
“Especially in April, we just typically don’t see thunder and lightning storms in this part of the state, so in the city it is a very rare occurrence,” Specht said. “I, in my 18 years, have never responded or never heard of a lightning strike fire in the city.”
Firefighters say it is important for people to stay inside whenever there is lightning.
“Unpredictable weather that we’ve had here in Oceanside, being out and about, investigating and trying to look to see where lightning has hit is absolutely not what we would request people to do,” Specht said. “Just stay in your homes and let the storm itself pass by.”