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Calif. Lightning Ignites New Wildfires

Firefighters were hoping Friday to fully contain a small lightning-sparked blaze that temporarily threatened dozens of homes in an area that has been besieged by wildfires in recent weeks.

Lightning-laced thunderstorms rolled through the area east of Los Angeles on Thursday, igniting a half-dozen new blazes but failing to bring heavy rains that could help douse the flames.

A wildfire quickly burned 250 acres, or less than half a square mile, in Joshua Tree National Park, said state forestry department Capt. Marc DeRosier.

The blaze came as close as a mile to the homes before winds turned the flames back to the park, he said. Some residents voluntarily evacuated, he said. It was 80 percent contained and full containment was expected Friday.

An afternoon storm cell unleashed heavy rain in some areas of the San Bernardino Mountains but less than a tenth of an inch in burned areas, according to the National Weather Service in San Diego. Storms were also possible Friday.

In San Bernardino National Forest, about 200 firefighters working a vast complex of fires were pulled off the lines and ordered to safer areas over concerns of lightning and flash flooding.

The fires, roughly 38 square miles in size, were ignited by lightning July 9 and burned in craggy canyonlands about 100 miles east of Los Angeles. For nearly a week, the fire has stayed a few miles southeast of Big Bear and other resort towns.

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