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Lightning forecast for Northern California has firefighters on edge

A forecast for Northern California calling for warm temperatures and dry lightning raised the level of fire danger Wednesday and prompted Cal Fire to add firefighters and equipment while keeping a watchful eye on the sky.

By mid afternoon, dark clouds were on the move in northern Sonoma County and lightning strikes had been reported in the Mayacamas Mountains on the county's eastern edge.

'It looks like some clouds are rolling over the Geysers right now. We're definitely aware and monitoring,' said Geyserville fire Capt. Carlos Mendez.

Geyserville's fire agency, which covers the fire‑prone Geysers region of the Mayacamas between Sonoma and Lake counties, hadn't added firefighters Wednesday but had off‑duty firefighters on alert just in case, Mendez said.

Reports of a few possible strikes in the remote Knights Valley area near the Sonoma‑Napa county border sent Cal Fire Battalion Chief Marshall Turbeville driving through the area, looking for signs of fire.

'There are no indications of any downstrikes,' Turbeville said, surmising that a cell has passed over the area and likely fueled a few strikes before moving on.

The outlook for thunderstorms was strongest in northern Lake County and in the Mendocino National Forest spanning Lake and Mendocino counties.

As of Wednesday afternoon no lightning-sparked fires were reported in the North Bay region. But the forecast and a fire-weather watch called for the chance of scattered thunderstorms through late Wednesday night and a possible chance of light rain.

Throughout Northern California, Cal Fire was paying attention, Turbeville said.

'Everybody has staffed up for the event,' he said. 'The greatest potential is through this evening.'

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