By Chris Spears

DENVER (CBS4) – Lightning from dry thunderstorms will be a big concern on Saturday across western Colorado. The threat has prompted the National Weather Service to issue a Red Flag Warning for the region. Low relative humidity and bouts of strong, gusty wind will also fuel the sitution.

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A dry thunderstorm is a storm with a cloud base so high off the ground that any rain falling from it typically evaporates before reaching the surface. The result is a lot of wind, maybe some sprinkles and often a lot of cloud-to-ground lightning. In Colorado, lightning is responsible for over half of all wildfires reported each year.

Lightning near Thornton on Aug. 17. (credit: CBS)

Thunderstorms developed over southwest Colorado on Friday and the cloud-to-ground lightning sparked over 20 new wildfires, according to a Facebook post by the Durango Interagency Fire Dispatch. Most of the fires were on Ute Mountain or Southern Ute lands in the extreme southwest part of the state.

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The largest fire was reported to be around 80 acres as of Friday evening. A variety of resources were being used to fight the fires including helicopters, air tankers, smoke jumpers, fire engines and ground crews.

Western Colorado remains in a drought that started last year. River levels and soil moisture are very low in that part of the state.

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Chris Spears