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Venice Beach hit by at least 4 lightning strikes; 1 dead, others hurt

One man was killed and at least eight others were hurt when lightning from a rare band of summer thunderstorms struck Venice Beach on Sunday afternoon. The unidentified man in his 20s died after he was transported from Venice Beach to Marina Del Rey Hospital for treatment. A second man struck by lightning in Venice was listed in critical condition. He and six others remain hospitalized, including a 15-year-old. Stuart Seto of the National Weather Service said least four lightning strikes hit the Venice Beach area around 2:20 p.m. He said strikes hit the water and the beach, but could not specify where.  Witnesses said the lightning storm seemed to come out of nowhere. Roger Davis was inside his home on Ocean Front Walk near Driftwood when he heard the explosions. "The whole place shook," he said. He ran outside. His neighbor, a doctor, was giving CPR to a victim, Davis said. He said firefighters set up a triage area on the south end of the parking lot ‎down from the Venice Pier....

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Lightning strikes in coastal Southern California are rare, expert says

Lightning strikes that critically injured two people and hit several more Sunday in coastal Southern California are extremely rare, with the West Coast experiencing the lowest incidence of them in the nation, a weather expert said. Bill Patzert, a climatologist with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said an intense high-pressure system pulled an unusual mass of hot and moist air from Mexico and the Gulf of California to coastal areas, creating the unstable atmospheric conditions that produced the lightning strikes. Normally, he said, those air masses travel no farther west than the high desert and mountains. “This was a sneak attack that took everybody by surprise,” he said. “Coastal Southern California is virtually lightning proof. Because it’s so unusual, people are not sensitized to the dangers.” Patzert said the odds of lightning striking a person in California is 1 in 7.5 million. Montana has among the highest odds at 1 in about 250,000 but Florida is the “nation’s lightning...

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Fierce lightning storm hit L.A. beach without warning, witnesses say

The summer storm that struck Venice beach and other parts of the L.A. coast Sunday took many beach-goers by surprise. The possibility of thunderstorms and lightning had been in the forecast, but conditions were also muggy and hot, bringing many to the beach. At 1:38 p.m., the National Weather Service put out a bulletin warning of a storm that could produce heavy winds, thunder and "deadly lightning." An hour later, it recommended people stay indoors in the Venice area if they hear lightning. Saida Rodriguez, 70, was just north of the Venice Pier when she saw a lightning bolt strike and then heard loud explosions like gunshots. "It got cloudy ... All of a sudden I see this lightning," the Camarillo resident said. "It was scary." The lightning struck at least nine people and ignited brush fires in various parts of Southern California on Sunday afternoon, officials said. Danielle Real, 15, and Paige Banaga, 13, said they were swimming off Fleet Street at Venice Beach when they heard an...

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Deadly lightning strikes at Venice beach: Images capture aftermath
Weather near Sand, Yosemite wildfires could cause blazes to grow

Weather may complicate the work of hundreds of firefighters in the days ahead as they battle two out-of-control California wildfires. Lightning strikes associated with thunderstorms near Yosemite National Park could spark new fires near the 2,100 acre blaze there. And ongoing hot, dry and windy conditions near the 3,800 acre Sand fire near Placerville could fan flames, a Sacramento-based National Weather Service meteorologist said Sunday -- encouraging that fire to spread quickly through drought-ravaged, dried-out vegetation. "Anytime we have gusts along with high temperatures and low humidity it's a recipe for aggressive fire growth," Drew Peterson said. His office was predicting high temperatures in the region near the Sand fire Sunday, ranging from the extreme upper 90s into the low 100s, with humidity hovering around 10% -- a level that presents a significant fire danger.  Weather service meteorologists also expected gusty winds in the area, Peterson said, noting that "it doesn't...

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U.S. Open of Surfing relatively calm after melee last year, police say

A year after a melee broke out on the final day of the U.S. Open of Surfing tournament in Huntington Beach, police said that there had been no major problems associated with the tournament so far this year. Officers have arrested approximately 40 people since the tournament began Friday evening, said Lt. Kent Ferrin, a police spokesman. Ferris said the arrests were for "relatively minor offenses" such as fighting and public intoxication. "We were busy," Ferrin said, "but there was nothing major." On the final day of last year's event a disturbance broke out in which rioters smashed glass storefronts and overturned portable toilets. Several officers suffered minor injuries and a person was treated and released from a hospital after being struck by a rubber projectile. Tournament organizers scaled back this year's event and banned alcohol sales and live music, among other precautions. The event also got a beefed-up police presence, including mounted officers in the downtown area.   "We...

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'Century Crunch': So far, so good on 2nd day of LAX traffic rerouting

So far, Day Two of the “Century Crunch” looks a lot like Day One. Traffic was running smoothly early Sunday as major construction work continued around Century and Aviation boulevards near the entrance to Los Angeles International Airport. Surface-street traffic is being rerouted three miles around the intersection, which is scheduled to reopen by 6 a.m. Monday. Transportation officials had warned drivers that the project could cause major traffic delays. Forty traffic officers and engineers have been posted at 21 intersections around the airport to help with traffic flow. On Saturday, construction crews demolished an old railroad bridge to begin construction on a new commuter rail station. By 9 a.m., the bridge was knocked down and crews had begun hauling away debris. Officials said there were no major problems or delays and were pleased with traffic flow, which seemed at times to be lighter than usual. But LAX spokeswoman Mary Grady cautioned that there may be a surge in traffic...

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Sand fire destroys 10 homes, is 35% contained

A 3,800-acre blaze in Northern California has forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents, destroyed 10 homes and may not be fully contained until the first week of August, officials said. As of 9:30 a.m. Sunday, the Sand fire east of Sacramento was 35% contained, said Lynne Tolmachoff, spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Meanwhile, a separate 2,100-acre fire continues to burn out of control in Yosemite National Park, destroying one home. About 1,500 firefighters were battling the flames of the Sand fire Sunday, Tolmachoff said, along with six air tankers and six water-dropping helicopters. One inmate firefighter suffered minor injuries Saturday, she said. By Sunday morning, officials said, the fire had destroyed 10 homes in two separate areas. Half of the houses were near San Ridge Road near California 49, where the fire started Friday afternoon when a vehicle drove through dry brush, Tolmachoff said. The rest of the homes were farther south...

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Car strikes, injures woman during Comic-Con 'zombie walk'

A rowdy incident during a "zombie walk" outside the Comic-Con convention in San Diego on Saturday left a 64-year-old woman with "serious arm injuries," police said. The walk, a high point of the annual convention, involves conventioneers in frightening costumes and with painted faces walking on the streets near the city's convention center. The incident began around 5:30 p.m. when a "deaf family with small children" was in a car at an intersection waiting for the marchers to pass by, police said. After waiting several minutes, the 48-year-old driver drove slowly forward because the children in the car were afraid of the marchers, police said. Several of the zombie marchers surrounded the car and began pounding on it. Some jumped on the vehicle, and the windshield was shattered, police said. "The family was scared so the father drove forward again trying to get away from the angry crowd," Officer David Stafford said. The 64-year-old woman was then struck by the car and fell underneath...

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Afghan sentenced to prison for killing three Marines

An Afghan convicted of gunning down three Marines, two from California, at a joint U.S.-Afghan base has been sentenced to prison for seven years and six months. The comparatively light sentence is the result of a controversial ruling by an Afghan court that the assailant was under age 18 at the time of the attack. The family of one of the Marines has vowed to continue pressing for the killer to be brought to the U.S. to be tried. The attack occurred Aug. 10, 2012, at Forward Operating Base Delhi in Helmand province, long a Taliban stronghold. The base was shared by the Marines, Afghan police and the Afghan army. Killed were Staff Sgt. Scott Dickinson, 29, of San Diego; Cpl. Richard Rivera Jr., 20, of Oxnard and Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr., 21, of Oceanside, N.Y.  A fourth Marine was severely wounded but survived. The Marines were part of a group training the Afghan police. While in Afghanistan, they were assigned to a battalion from Camp Lejeune, N.C., although their home base was...

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Northern California wildfire doubles in size; 2nd fire burns in Yosemite

A Northern California wildfire that has forced the evacuation of about 1,200 people has more than doubled in size, and a new fire threatens homes in Yosemite National Park. As of Saturday evening the Sand Fire had burned more than 3,000 acres, or about 4 1/2 square miles, near the border of Amador and El Dorado counties. The fire destroyed five homes and seven small structures, said Lynne Tolmachoff, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The fire was 20% contained, Tolmachoff said. The fire broke out Friday about 4:30 p.m. on San Ridge Road off California 49. It crossed the Cosumnes River into dry territory and began to pick up speed, Tolmachoff said. The blaze may have been ignited by a burned car near the riverbed. Fire authorities said about 515 homes had been evacuated. A fire in Yosemite that has grown to more than 500 acres has forced the evacuations of about 45 homes in the community of Foresta and six homes outside the park, said Park...

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One dead in Downey collision between mini-van and big rig

An 18-year-old man was killed and four people were injured Friday night when the van they were riding in collided into the back of a big rig in Downey. The driver of the big rig was about to make a left turn when the 1997 Chevy Astro van slammed into it, the Downey Police Department said in a statement. The crash occurred about 10:45 p.m. near the intersection of Lakewood Boulevard and Florence Avenue. The passenger, a Downey resident, was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said. The 19-year-old driver of the van, an 18-year-old Downey man, a 17-year-old boy from Downey and a 18-year-old woman from South Gate were taken to local hospitals for non-life threatening injuries. The driver of the big rig was not hurt. The collision is still under investigation and anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Edwards at (562)904-2339 or Sgt. Miller (562)904-2342. For Orange County news, follow @AdolfoFlores3.

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