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Lightning Strikes Ignite New Wildfires In El Dorado County; Tahoe Firefighters Rush To Battle Blazes

RESCUE (CBS SF) -- Crews battling Tahoe's massive Caldor Fire were rushed from the fire lines early Friday to battle new lightning-ignited wildfires throughout El Dorado County as a cold front rolled over the region, carrying with it thundershowers.

Cal Fire's Amador-El Dorado Unit, which has been engaged battling the Caldor Fire ever since it ignited near Sly Park on Aug. 14 and roared up Highway 50 into to the Tahoe Basin, took to social media Friday morning to updated the situation.

"Firefighters were diverted from the Caldor Fire to fight multiple lightning fires late last night throughout El Dorado County," unit officials posted. "Lightning from heavy storm cells passing through the northwestern part of El Dorado County started the largest on Kanaka Valley Road in Rescue."

The Rescue blaze burned in heavy brush and steep terrain.

"Fortunately, the cell also brought precipitation that is aiding in the suppression of the fire," fire officials said. "Firefighters are working in very challenging conditions to create containment lines in the difficult to access terrain."

By sunrise, the crews were able to halt the fire's advance at 6.4 acres with 5% percent.

"Last night, obviously we had a whole bunch of lightning come through the unit," Caldor Fire crew chiefs were told at a morning briefing. "Amador-El Dorado Unit as whole, five fires total biggest one being between 8-12 acres. We are supporting them this morning with some engine companies and potentially some crews this afternoon."

Recon fights were in the air already at daybreak, flying over the region and the Caldor Fire, searching for new fires and hot spots.

But Caldor incident commander Anale Burlew told crew chiefs not to be fooled by the shower that fell over the fire zone.

"I need to be honest with you all this morning," she told the fire crews chiefs. "I didn't sleep well last night. I was worried about the fate that Mother Nature had in store for us over the last 12 hours. I am very pleased to be standing in a wet base camp."

"But let's be real. We still have a Red Flag Warning in place for the remainder of your shift. We have new lightning starts all around us and we are already being having resources pulled from our incident. The reality is these few raindrops will have little to no effect on our critically dry fuels. So it's very important that we are not complacent today."

A Red Flag Warning covered the region until later in the day Friday.

The National Weather Service reported Friday morning that about 1,100 cloud to ground lightning strikes occurred around California since Thursday evening, including about 110 in the Bay Area, but no major fires have been reported as a result.

By Friday morning, the Caldor Fire had grown to 218,459 acres and was 53% contained.

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