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3 firefighters struck by lightning suffer 'ringing in the ears'

September 13, 2011 |  7:41 pm

Three U.S. Forest Service firefighters injured by a lightning strike Tuesday were scheduled to spend the night in a hospital for observation, officials said.

The three men were battling a small brush fire about 3 p.m. in the Los Padres National Forest near the border of Kern and Ventura counties when the lightning struck about 50 feet away, officials said.

"They were knocked off their feet," said Andrew Madsen, spokesman for the Los Padres National Forest.

He identified the firefighters as Ryan Bridgen, Andy Juarez and Jonathan Marquez.

Madsen said the men were disoriented and complained of "ringing in their ears," which later turned into severe headaches for two of the firefighters. They were listed Tuesday evening in stable condition.

"They're going to be OK," Madsen told The Times.

He said the fire crew had lightning spotters but that the bolt "just came out of nowhere."

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— Robert J. Lopez

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