Wildfire closes road at Hurricane Ridge

A lightning strike is believed to have ignited two small wildfires at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park on Monday, one of them immediately prompting closure of Hurricane Ridge Road, park officials announced Tuesday.

The fire was reported to park rangers at about 4:30 p.m. Monday, said Jared Low, supervisory interpretive ranger, late Tuesday afternoon. Visitors at the Ridge were evacuated and the road from Port Angeles was closed.

At that time it was about an half-acre. By late Tuesday, it had grown to 1 acre, Low said.

The fire was in a tree stand about 2,000 feet below the intersection with the Ridge parking lot and Obstruction Point Road, he added.

Hurricane Ridge Road remained closed as the Olympic Interagency Fire Management Unit, which is made up of ONP and Olympic National Forest firefighters, continued to fight the blaze.

A second fire, also considered to be ignited by lightning at about the same time, was reported near the parking lot at the end of Obstruction Park Road, Low said. Late Tuesday, it was reported to be 0.8 acres in size.

Hurricane Ridge had received multiple strikes during thunderstorms Monday afternoon, the park said on its Facebook page.

Lightning strike websites showed numerous strikes within the park, but no other fires were reported as of Tuesday.

The National Weather Service had not received any other reports of fires after the thunder-and-lightning show on the North Olympic Peninsula on Monday and Tuesday, said Kayla Mazurkiewicz, meteorologist at the Seattle office, on Tuesday afternoon.

Thunderstorms moved east and north on Tuesday. Late that afternoon, the storm was centered on the Port Townsend area and was expected to drift off to the east by about 6 p.m., Mazurkiewicz said.

Today, Clallam and Jefferson counties were expected to have stray showers, with the bulk of the storm — including lightning — moving off the Peninsula to the north.

Some warming and drier conditions are expected Friday and Saturday, but with a possible return of cooler and cloudier weather on Sunday and Monday, meteorologists said.

British Columbia was reported by Global News to have more than 30 new wildfires burning from suspected lightning strikes. That brought the province’s fluctuating total to 407 as of Tuesday afternoon, the news outlet said.

Of the new fires, at least 33 were burning out of control, Global News said on Tuesday, but it added that none were highly visible or threatening to public safety.

Most of the new blazes were in the Coastal Fire Centre — which has Victoria at its southern end, according to the news outlet. It quoted Matt MacDonald, lead fire weather forecaster for the BC Wildfire Service, as saying that more than 2,000 lightning strikes were recorded in the Coastal Fire Centre in the past 24 hours.