6/29/2013 11:35:00 AM Monsoon lightning crashes into Verde Valley
Lightning strikes caused fires to break out sporadically on Friday in the Valley. From Jerome, smoke could be seen dotting the horizon in several locations while one strike set fire to a residence at Gold King Mine that was quickly extinguished by the owner. VVN/Jon Pelletier
The Verde Valley got its first taste of the Arizona monsoon Friday afternoon. And, as is typical, a few dry lightning strikes triggered some small fires. Two strikes were in Jerome.
Jerome Fire Chief Rusty Blair said crews from Jerome and Clarkdale rushed to one strike that struck the front of owner Don Robertson's house at the Gold King Mine. Robertson said he was just returning from town and saw two bolts; one near Jerome and another above the Gold King tourist attraction.
When he arrived home, flames were climbing the front of his home, a large wood-framed house and the hill on which it is located.
He and workers grabbed a large rolling fire extinguisher and four smaller canisters and attacked the flames. When fire crews arrived, they put the fire out and mopped up the blaze. The fast response was able to keep the fire from destroying the home.
Other lightning caused fires were visible burning south of the Village of Oak Creek and above the Rim in the Coconino National Forest.
Clouds had built throughout the day, beginning with "west of Flagstaff and along the Mogollon Rim," and growing throughout the afternoon, according to Chris Outler, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Belmont.
He called it "a pretty good cell" that developed in the Mingus Mountain area. His equipment estimated the Mingus area received about 130 lightning strikes, some of which brought out fire crews.
Outler says, it definitely "represents the onset of the monsoon, initially with lightning and gusty winds, but little mid-level moisture."
There were areas around Flagstaff that did receive some rainfall from the monsoon clouds.
"Early next week, we will have much better coverage and chances for storms, but not with a lot of moisture yet."