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Southern California firefighters on alert for lightning-sparked blazes

A patch of thunderstorms expected to pass over Southern California on Monday may bring lightning strikes that could spark a dangerous wildfire, the National Weather Service said.

Hot, muggy weather that began blanketing communities in Los Angeles and Ventura counties and inland to Riverside County over the weekend has brought with it the slight potential for rainfall, said weather service meteorologist Kathy Hoxsie.

The greatest risk for dry lightning is on Monday in the San Gabriels and surrounding mountains, Hoxsie said, with the greatest chance of rain on Tuesday before the entire system travels east by the end of the week.

“Dry lightning is always a concern in the summertime,” she said. “But following the long, dry period that we’ve had, it’s something that all the fire departments will be on alert for.”

At the same time, Southern Californians will have to endure the sort of weather that is more typical back east during this time of year. Temperatures in downtown Los Angeles on Monday are predicted to be in the 80s, but in areas such as the Antelope Valley, the thermometer could hit triple digits, creating a miserable situation when combined with the unusual humidity.

“It not only feels hotter and more uncomfortable, it means you don’t get that relief when you go under the shade or somewhere cooler,” Hoxsie said.

The heat comes as firefighters across the state battle a series of wildfires. The largest of them all, the Lake fire in the San Bernardino National Forest, has burned 30,716 acres since it started June 17.

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