Just when residents of Mineral County thought it was safe to venture from their homes, Mother Nature opened up the skies once again when powerful thunderstorms hit the area over the weekend. This time, not only did rain fall but thunder and lightning could be seen and heard throughout the valley.
With uncounted lightning strikes hitting the ground the risk of fire was greatly on the minds of those who man the fire stations. Calls began to roll in as quickly as the clouds.
Fire crews were dispatched to the Borealis mine site Friday, where a security guard on duty observed smoke from a distance of the mine. “The lightning was hitting all around us. I looked out the front of the (guard shack) and noticed smoke about a mile to a mile and a quarter away. It gradually became worse,” said Jerry Chidester, Borealis mine employee, who called in the fire.
The Hawthorne Volunteer Fire Department were quickly on scene where a tree and the surrounding brush and dry grasses were on fire. Led by Capt. Daniel Goodwin and Safety officer Ben Pena, volunteer firefighters L. Ives; Lessard; Kati; Guy and Regusci were able to quickly extinguish the fire without it further spreading to nearby dead trees and brush. The Walker Lake Fire Dept. was on mutual aid during the incident with Lt. Harmon and firefighter Morgan assisting where needed.
While the firefighters battled over Lucky Boy near Borealis, SOC Fire Dept. was called to a lightning strike near Turtle Neck near the Hawthorne Dump. The fire was quickly extinguished by the downpour of rain.
While onlookers were watching the show in the valley, another fire broke out in the Sweetwater Range across from the Powell Canyon where two trees had taken a lightening hit and were smoldering. Under the watch of Hawthorne fire fighter Ray Gulcynski and volunteer Mauro Viani. The firefighters stood vigilant watch over the fire until more rain diminished the trees.
Besides the plagues of fire and lightening, water continued to pour over roadways, washing out roads in Alum and Powell Canyon.
Despite being stretched thing, volunteers and paid individuals from all agencies pulled together to ensure that citizens were protected and resources available to those in need.
With the continued threats of lightening to our area, those who witness lightening fires are asked to call the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch center. Remember to speak clearly and give detailed descriptions of where the fire/smoke can be seen.