Fire danger still high in San Diego County despite rain - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Fire danger still high in San Diego County despite rain

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - California saw more than 150 new fires last week and most were sparked by lightning. Now, a Cal Fire captain tells CBS News 8 that at least one strike team from San Diego has been sent to battle flames in the northern part of the state.

So far this year, firefighters from Cal Fire have responded to more than 4,100 wildfires throughout the state, which have consumed more than 80,000 acres. Despite Wednesday's wet conditions, the extended drought the state is experiencing means fire danger remains high.

Wednesday's summer storm brought with it hundreds of lightning strikes along or near the coast and we may not be out of the woods yet.

"Lightning of any sort is always of high concern to us,” said Captain Kendal Bortisser with Cal Fire.

With more strikes possible overnight, so was the threat of fire danger and other hazardous conditions, which prompted closures of several beaches earlier Wednesday.

Last month at Venice beach, a 20-year-old man was killed and several others were injured during a lightning storm. And just in the past week, California saw more than 160 new wildfires, according to the LA Times, most started by lightning strikes in parched forest land.

Also concerning firefighters is that with the small amount of rain we've received recently, some San Diegans may feel the risk of wildfires has diminished.

"Here in San Diego County we're used to getting on average about 10 inches of rain a year. We are below half of what we should have,” explained Captain Bortisser. “You combine this with this multi-year drought we're in, we're in a very serious fire situation here.”

And as the wildfires we endured this spring proved, no one is immune to that danger.

"In the past we always focused on the East County and the back country. However we saw in May that fires could occur anywhere in the county at the coast, inland, residential neighborhoods, the back country, doesn't matter, everyone is prone to wildfires,” continued Captain Bortisser.

At any time of the year, Cal Fire urges residents to have an evacuation plan already in place and to also take the time to create 100 feet of defensible space around all homes.

"It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. It's not a matter of when, it's a matter of where,” noted Captain Bortisser.

Cal Fire is also warning that an increasing number of wildfires have been started by recreational or target shooting across San Diego County and, because of that, shooting is now illegal on state-responsibility area.

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