Lightning struck a couple of trees behind Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee on Tuesday afternoon, splitting bark and igniting flames in the branches and surrounding brush, even while rain fell on the area.
According to Cal Fire, if this were a normal water year, the vegetation would have enough moisture at this time of the season that lightning-caused fires would be unlikely.
"But unfortunately because of the drought, a simple lightning strike can easily spark a wildfire," said Cal Fire spokesman, Daniel Berlant. "In a year like this, with conditions so dry, spread of a fire is going to happen very very rapidly."
Crews with Cal Fire and the Truckee Fire Protection District were able to reach and extinguish Tuesday's fire quickly, limiting it to the immediate area where lightning hit the trees.
Cal Fire has increased staffing levels in recent weeks in response to the early dry conditions.
Berlant urges homeowners to clear 100 feet of defensible space around buildings.