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Lightning storms spark dozens of small fires

July 24, 2012 |  5:10 pm

Lightning struck thousands of times over a 24-hour period ending Tuesday morning, scattering small wildfires through the forests of Northern California.

From 6 a.m. Monday through 6 a.m. Tuesday, 345 strikes were recorded in the Tahoe National Forest, where 25 small fires resulted. There were 900 strikes over the last two days. Other National Forests in California had thousands of strikes.

The light show is part of summer in the California mountains, when bolts often rake over the Sierra.  But conditions are dry, and fire personnel scrambled to contain the fires before they could spread. Most of the flames were controlled or contained within less than an acre.

The surge in naturally caused fires spurred a warning to visitors to use caution while in forested areas.

"We need to remind folks that it's a dry summer and fire restrictions are in place," said Ann Westling, a forest service spokeswoman.

Anyone camping outside a campground area that has designated fire pits is urged to use only a portable stove and not to build any fires.


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-- Diana Marcum