Today’s fire updates are here.
The National Weather Service issued a significant weather advisory Sunday afternoon for areas of western Flagler County that have been battling fires, particularly around Espanola.
The weather service was calling for strong winds, small hail and excessive lightning in mid-afternoon. Lightning has been responsible for starting the majority, if not all, the fires currently burning in the county.
At 3:20 p.m., the weather service was tracking a strong thunderstorm centered over Crescent City and moving northwest at 5 miles per hour. The thunderstorm was expected to hit, among other places, Andalusia, the unincorporated area along State Road 100, near the Flagler-Putnam county border, and just south of the Espanola fire. The storm was dumping hail of up to three quarters of an inch in diameter, producing gusty winds of 45 to 55 miles per hour and producing excessive lightning.
Rain is good: it’s what firefighters have been hoping for, and rain is the only thing that will ultimately eliminate wildfires. But it must be heavy, drenching, continuous rain. Wind is bad: it feeds the fires. And lightning is worst: it starts them. Fires started by lightning won’t necessarily emerge immediately. They may take up to 24 to 48 hours to declare themselves, as the lightning strike may trigger a fire deep under ground. The fire smolders then emerges into a full-blown fire.