What seemed like calm weather turned wild on Tuesday in Otero County, Colorado.
The Otero County Sheriff’s Office and firefighters from the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, La Junta, Cheraw Fire, Las Animas, and Bent County, responded to a wildfire caused by a lightning strike at about 8:46 PM on Tuesday evening.
According to the La Junta Fire Department, the lightning-caused fire burned an estimated 500 acres in an area by Timber Lake as severe storms packing funnel clouds and lightning rolled into the area.
Several funnel clouds were spotted on Tuesday evening in areas north of Swink and east of Cheraw. While authorities were unable to confirm if any of the funnels made contact with the ground, residents were advised to take shelter. Standing water from the storms was also reported in the Rocky Ford area.
As the storms moved across the sky, tornado warnings were also issued until 9:15 PM on Tuesday for Arlington and Chewa. Flash flood warnings continued until 11:45 PM for Rocky Ford and Sugar City.
Tornado Warning continues for Cheraw CO until 9:15 PM MDT pic.twitter.com/eEyoHHrlGT
— NWS Pueblo (@NWSPueblo) May 20, 2020
The La Junta Fire Department said the multi-crew team did “great work to contain and extinguish the fire.”
The National Weather Service warns of conditions ripe for the rapid ignition, growth, and spread of fires, with red flag warnings in effect for much of the state. Strong southwest winds, hot temperatures, and very dry conditions will result in widespread critical fire weather conditions for Wednesday. Residents should be alert, use caution, and avoid activities that could accidentally start a wildfire.
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