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Lightning Sparks Central California Wildfires

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A wildfire burns in Kern County after lightning strikes sparked a number of different fires Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011.

A wildfire burns in Kern County after lightning strikes sparked a number of different fires Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011.

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BAKERSFIELD (AP) — Wildfires sparked by lightning strikes burned Sunday near homes in areas of central California, causing some residents to flee some mountain communities.

Over 25,000 acres, or nearly 40 square miles, have burned across Kern County since early Saturday, according to County Fire Department spokesman Dustin Allegranza. Crews were focusing on one major fire plus two fire complexes, made up of about eight smaller blazes.

The Milano Fire in a rural area near Walker Basin consumed 10,000 acres and moved into the Sequoia National Forest, Allegranza said. There is no containment.

A fire in the Keene Complex southeast of Bakersfield was threatening numerous structures. Residents in the communities of Keene, Hart Flat, Bear Valley, Golden Hills and Stallion Springs were being told that evacuations were recommended. Some people have decided to leave, Allegranza said.

One of the fires in the Keene complex was 80 percent surrounded, another was 40 percent contained and the third was 18 percent contained.

The other, the Comanche Complex, burned over 15,000 acres southwest of Bakersfield near the city of Arvin. Two of those fires were fully surrounded, one was 90 percent contained, one was 30 percent contained and one had no containment.

Water-dropping aircraft were making frequent runs over the flames, Allegranza said.

There were as many as 50 small fires burning in Kern County Saturday, after a series of fast-moving thunderstorms brought frequent lightning.

Lightning strikes also sparked about a dozen small fires in Northern California, including several in the San Francisco Bay area. A blaze near Contra Costa County’s Mt. Diablo consumed about six acres of brush. No homes were threatened and no injuries were reported.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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