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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

LPF - Three Firefighters Sent To Hospital After Lightning Strike

Three Los Padres National Forest firefighters were sent to hospitals Tuesday afternoon after lightning hit within 50 feet of where they were standing in the mountains around Lockwood Valley, Ventura County Fire Department officials said.

"It knocked them off their feet," said Andrew Madsen, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service. The incident occurred about 3:30 p.m. near the 2600 block of Lockwood Valley Road.

It came as a series of thunderstorms moved through the area, said Bill Nash, a spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department.

Madsen said the three reported ringing in their ears and disorientation.

"We're lucky, in that it could have been much worse," Madsen said.

The firefighters were in the Frazier Mountain area fighting a series of fires sparked by lightning, Madsen said. The fires have been going since Saturday.

Two of the firefighters were taken to Ventura County Medical Center in Ventura, while a third was taken to a hospital in Bakersfield, Madsen said.

None of them lost consciousness and all were expected to survive, Madsen said.

One firefighter was held overnight at a hospital for observation and the other two were released, according to a National Weather Service statement.

Forest Service officials did not release their names Tuesday,saying family members would have to be contacted first. They were expected to release the names today.

The three work for the Forest Service.

The National Weather Service in Oxnard had issued a severe weather alert for the northern part of Ventura and Los Angeles counties this afternoon.

The storms came as a low-pressure system over the county moved south, allowing thunderstorms to move in from the north, said Curt Kaplan of the National Weather Service office in Oxnard.

Winds of 60 mph or more were possible, Kaplan said. A flash-flood warning also was in effect for Los Angeles County, Kaplan said.

The National Weather Service said rainfall rates of 2 inches per hour were recorded in some areas of the warning, and residents are warned to avoid streams and areas of runoff.

Joshua Tree National Park spokesman Joe Zarki says torrential rains caused widespread flash flooding in the Pinto Basin and Cottonwood Spring areas of the park.

Lightning strikes also set palm trees ablaze in Southern California desert areas near Palm Springs early Tuesday as thunderstorms quickly rolled across the region.

About 10 trees reportedly caught fire in the middle of the Indian Canyons golf course. Three more burned at the Seven Lakes Country Club.

Heavy rains helped firefighters douse those fires before they could spread.

Source: Ventura County Star - Link
California Fire News 2011 

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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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