Southern California storms cause flooding, fires

AP News
Posted: Sep 14, 2011 2:32 AM
Southern California storms cause flooding, fires

Late summer storms dumped heavy rain, lightning and even hail to parts of Southern California on Tuesday, prompting flash flood warnings in some areas.

In the Los Padres National Forest, three U.S. Forest Service firefighters were injured when lightning struck about 50 feet away from where they were standing near the border of Kern and Ventura counties, forest spokesman Andrew Madsen told the Los Angeles Times.

"They were knocked off their feet," Madsen said.

The firefighters were disoriented and complained of ringing in their ears. One firefighter was held overnight at a hospital for observation and the other two were released, according to a National Weather Service statement.

Flash flood warnings were issued for parts of Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties Tuesday because heavy rainfall exceeded 2 inches per hour in some areas, the weather service said.

In Joshua Tree National Park, torrential rains caused widespread flash flooding in the park's Pinto Basin and Cottonwood Spring areas, park spokesman Joe Zarki said.

Several roads in Joshua Tree were badly damaged with loss of pavement in numerous areas, but no one was hurt, said Zarki.

Half-inch hail fell over the Pine Valley area in San Diego County early Tuesday, weather service meteorologist James Thomas told City News Service.

In Southern California's desert areas near Palm Springs, lightning strikes set palm trees ablaze as thunderstorms quickly rolled across the region.

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

Palm Springs fire Battalion Chief Jon Merriam says firefighters were called out before dawn Tuesday to 11 lightning-related incidents in about 2 1/2 hours.

In Lake Arrowhead, one family weathered a storm of their own after their 8-year-old autistic boy went missing for more than 24 hours _ including a period of chilly weather, heavy rain and lightning.

The boy was found _ in shorts and without a shirt _ safe and uninjured.

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