Lightning storm prompts fire danger in SCV

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By Emily Alvarenga & Caleb Lunetta

Signal Senior Staff Writers

A lightning storm that struck Monday evening ignited multiple trees and brush on fire across the Santa Clarita Valley.

The first incident was reported on the 27000 block of Sycamore Creek Drive in Valencia shortly before 5:30 p.m. when a lightning bolt struck a palm tree and the surrounding brush, according to Los Angeles County Fire Department Supervisor Ed Pickett.

“We got reports that lightning struck and caught the brush on fire,” Pickett said, adding that the blaze was reportedly threatening nearby structures.

Upon arrival, firefighters found a 20-by-20 spot in heavy brush, but were able to quickly contain the fire, Pickett added.

A second incident was reported just minutes later on the 25200 block of The Old Road in Stevenson Ranch when multiple callers reported a lightning bolt had caught another palm tree on fire, Pickett said.

While both incidents were quickly handled, National Weather Service meteorologist David Gomberg said dry conditions have left NWS officials concerned for such events, but the storm is expected to get wetter during overnight hours, lessening the threat of more ignitions.

The storm is expected to last through the night and head out by the morning hours, Gomberg added.

Los Angeles County Fire Department personnel respond to a lightning strike that caught a palm tree and surrounding brush on fire on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021. Bobby Block/The Signal

Shortly before 6 p.m., firefighters also responded to a 50-by-50 spot fire on the 28100 block of Chiquito Canyon Road in Val Verde, though it was unclear whether this incident was due to lightning.

No injuries were reported as a result of any of the incidents, according to fire officials.

Bryan Harrison was in his Sycamore Creek Drive backyard with his dogs when he heard an explosion, quickly realizing it was a palm tree in his yard that had been struck by lightning.

Homeowner Bryan Harrison returns his dogs to his Sycamore Creek house after firefighters responded to a lightning strike in his backyard Monday. October 04, 2021. Bobby Block / The Signal.

“I didn’t think it was a palm tree, but I looked over my shoulder and the palm tree was on fire,” Harrison said, adding that he immediately got his mother-in-law and dogs away from the home as the surrounding brush caught fire.

“All the neighbors around here were unbelievable. (We had) every neighbor was helping us out,” Harrison added.

Other than some damage to the patio furniture in his yard, Harrison’s home was not harmed, he said.

Down the street, Harrison’s neighbors Jonathan Payne and his 8-year-old son, Harrison, said the storm began with a little rain before the lightning started building.

Los Angeles County Fire Department personnel respond to a lightning strike that caught a palm tree and surrounding brush on fire on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021. Bobby Block/The Signal

“We heard it was like a flash and thunder at the same time so we knew it was right above us,” Jonathan Payne said, “and it sounded different. Instead of having the low rumbling sound, it sounded like someone was faking thunder, like on a stage play, with the metal and sharp and really loud.”

The sound was so loud it hurt their ears, and soon after, they began to smell the smoke of the palm tree that the bolt of lightning had struck.

While Harrison Payne said the incident was both scary and not scary at the same time, noting he’d “seen thunder but not this type of thunder,” his father said he and his wife, who are from the Northwest, are used to huge storms.

“This was really exciting because we don’t ever get that here in Santa Clarita,” Payne added.

Fire Department officials advised residents to seek shelter and remain inside until this lightning activity subsides via social media Monday, as they reported multiple lightning strikes across the greater L.A. county area.

Signal Photographer Bobby Block contributed to this report.

Los Angeles County Fire Department personnel respond to a lightning strike that caught a palm tree and surrounding brush on fire on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021. Bobby Block/The Signal



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