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Lightning strikes in Northern California spark 34 new wildfires

Wildfires
Lightning strikes in Northern California sparked 34 wildfires this weekend, Cal Fire reports

Thunderstorms continue to challenge firefighting efforts in Northern California, where hundreds of lighting strikes sparked 34 new blazes in just one 24-hour period over the weekend, officials reported.

The fires were small and extinguished quickly, burning only 11 acres in all, said Denis Mathisen, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Still, the number of lightning strikes over the weekend -- more than 800 -- is an indication of the continual threat looming over Northern California this summer.

“Knock on wood, we didn’t get any large ones last week,” Mathisen said. “We’ve been staffing a lot of lookouts to check.”

Since the end of July, more than a dozen wildfires -- many triggered by lightning -- have scorched more than 100,000 acres in Northern California up to the Oregon border, injuring firefighters and straining U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire resources.

Last week, Gov. Brown declared a state of emergency as fires continued to ignite and the state’s worst drought on record tightened its grip.

Among the fastest growing fires was the Lodge fire, a complex of lighting-triggered blazes burning in Mendocino County.

The Lodge fire was just 35% contained after burning roughly 9,500 acres, Cal Fire reported Monday. The fire, which broke through firefighters' eastern flank, has been burning through bone-dry timber in inaccessible, rugged hillsides where flames can make huge runs against firefighters.

Smoke has also been settling in the Ukiah Valley, prompting air-quality warnings.

The blaze nearly doubled in size over the weekend, and has injured 11 firefighters, according to Cal Fire.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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