Thunderstorms Hit Southern California, Lightning Blamed For Fires

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Thousands of Los Angeles Department of Water & Power and Southern California Edison customers were without power this morning after a thunderstorm with lightning dumped nearly four-tenths of an inch of rain in parts of Southern California.

DWP reported approximately 6,000 customers across Los Angeles were without power, down from 10,000 at the height of the outage, and crews were working to restore electricity to the remaining customers, in most cases by noon.

Edison reports at least 8,300 customers across Los Angeles County were without power, many along the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Edison estimated most customers will be back online later today.

Nearly four-tenths of an inch of rain was reported in Bel Air and at UCLA, according to the National Weather Service. Downtown Los Angeles and Beverly Hills both received about three-tenths of an inch of rain.

There is a chance of rain through Sunday afternoon and a forecast for clear weather, the weather service said.

Lightning could be seen and thunder heard across a wide swath of the region and rain began falling in downtown Los Angeles about 7:30 p.m. Friday after several flashes of lightning.

Thunder claps could also be heard.

Rain and lightning were also reported in Orange County.

Lightning was blamed for fires in Santa Ana, an unincorporated area near Orange and the Los Alamitos Joint Air Base, where four Orange County Fire Authority and two base companies worked to extinguish up to 10 palm trees that caught fire following strikes, according to OCFA Capt. Steve Concialdi.

OCFA crews also responded at 10 p.m. to a traffic collision at Bloomfield Street and Katella Avenue in Los Alamitos where a man crashed into a utility pole and live wires were on the vehicle, which came to rest against a building near the intersection, Concialdi said.

A woman passenger who was trapped in the car was freed at 11:25 p.m. by firefighters using the Jaws of Life after Edison crews were able to de-energize and remove the downed power lines from the vehicle, Concialdi said.

She was transported to a hospital as a trauma patient with moderate injuries. The man was also transported to a hospital with minor injuries.

Concialdi urged drivers to slow down when it rains because of the slick road conditions.

Lightning also forced delays for many high school football games in Los Angeles and Orange counties in getting started or caused them to be halted. A National Federation of State High School Associations rule bans football from being played during lightning. Thirty minutes from the last lightning strike must pass before play begins or resumes.

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