PARKFIELD, Monterey County (CBS SF) — Latent fire sparked by lightning caused a 66-acre wildfire in Monterey County that was 90 percent contained Sunday evening, a spokesperson for Cal Fire said.

Firefighters responded to a report of a fire around 3 p.m. at a ranch in Parkfield, an unincorporated area in southeast Monterey County near the county line, said Cal Fire spokesperson Jonathan Pangburn.

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Pangburn said lightening struck an oak tree on Thursday and the fire had been smoldering inside the tree until warmer weather allowed the fire to the spread.

“It sat smoldering in the oak tree while it was very cool and humid,” Pangburn said. “In the interior, it probably got into the 80’s or 90’s today, so hot and dry conditions.”

“The conditions were ripe for the fire to flare up and it spread into neighboring vegetation,” he said.

Roughly 75 firefighters battled the blaze in the “oak savannah” terrain, aided by a helicopter, a tactical command plane, and three “tanker” planes, Pangburn said.

A ranch manager alerted authorities to the blaze but by the time firefighters were able to access the fire, it had already consumed 15 to 20 acres, he said.

“It’s a pretty remote area,” Pangburn said. “Our firefighters went out and did the best they could to minimize the damage to rangeland.”

As of around 7:20 p.m., Pangburn said the fire was 90 percent contained.

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No structures were threatened and no injuries were reported, Pangburn said.

With California’s drought entering its fourth year, Pangburn said Cal Fire is urging all residents to do what they can to minimize the opportunities for wildfires and to prepare for wildfires should they come.

“This season will be a little different than the past,” Pangburn said.

Although it didn’t rain a lot this year, Pangburn said it rained more than in the previous three years, producing a larger grass crop.

“A lot of ranchers have reduced or sold off their herds of cattle, which means nothing will feed off that grass,” Pangburn said. “We still have the drought conditions…but now we also have the carrier fuels, the fine fuels like grass, that will carry the fire.”

Pangburn said residents can help reduce the risk of wildfires by remaining vigilant, preparing their homes, and packing an evacuation kit.

For more information on how to prepare for wildfires, visit

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