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Lightning Strikes Cause More Than 20 Fires in Sierra Nevadas

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Smoke in the Sierra Nevadas in 2006. | Photo: Bolt of Blue/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Storms over the Sierra Nevada Mountains this week produced hundreds of lightning strikes, some of them causing fires.

In Sierra National Forest, south of Yosemite National Park, downstrikes resulted in 15 new wildfires, the largest being the Aspen Fire near the small community of Big Creek, about 60 miles west of Fresno. The area is most well known for Southern California Edison's hydroelectric project, which is one of the largest in the world.

The 2,500-acre blaze has prompted the closure of Stump Springs Road and two campsites, Sample Meadow and West Kaiser. Forest officials have observed "extreme fire behavior" and at one point Tuesday afternoon pulled fire crews off for their own safety. There's been zero containment.

The remaining fires in the forest are said to be less than 1/4 acre in size and range in locations from 1,100 to 9,400 feet in elevation.

Farther south in the mountain range, lightning strikes caused four new fires, also less than 1/4 acre in size, in Giant Sequoia National Monument. "At this time there are no trail or road closures in the Western Divide Ranger District," said Denise Alonzo, monument spokesperson. "Visitors are urged to be cautious when traveling due to debris on the road from large amounts of rain the past few days, along with swollen creeks, or during periods of severe weather associated with thunderstorms."

Another small fire was found outside the monument in Sequoia National Forest on Junction Ridge near the 9,354-foot-tall Wren Peak.

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