San Diego County

San Diego Thunderstorm Causes Fires, Continued Power Outages

Lightning-related fires were reported in Fallbrook and La Mesa, and San Diego Gas & Electric reported more than a dozen power outages

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A thunderstorm that battered San Diego County on Monday set fires to some trees and buildings and left thousands of utility customers in the dark.

As of 7:45 a.m. Tuesday, San Diego Gas & Electric reported power outages continued to impact more than 1,500 customers -- an improvement from Monday night's figure of more than 13,000 customers affected. Severe weather caused many of the outages, SDG&E said.

Power restoration varied for some communities, with the latest estimate at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Check SDG&E's website for power restoration estimates.

Impacted communities include Rainbow, Pala, La Mesa, Fallbrook, Oceanside, Escondido, Boulevard, Jacumba, North Park, Golden Hill, Mission Beach, Midway, Talmadge, Tierrasanta, and Moreno.

One of the first lightning-related fires sparked near the Navajo Road on-ramp at State Route 125, on the eastern edge of the city of San Diego.

Twitter user @bk_missoula shared pictures of a blazing tree with NBC 7.

Lightning strike set fire to a tree near the Navajo Road onramp to SR-125.

Andy McKellar, a spokesperson for the Heartland Fire Department, said the agency couldn't count how many lightning-related fires started Monday evening, but said all fires reported in the area were lightning-related.

NBC 7 viewer Michelle Mattox also sent in pictures of a lightning-related fire near Mount Helix. The fire spread across a group of trees and threatened nearby homes.

Michelle Mattox

“There were probably 30 to 40 palm trees involved with a lot of embers cast onto the homes that are here," San Miguel Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Roddey Blunt said. "All residents did a great job, they had hoses out and were doing what was best for their property."

Nicco Bajoghli raced to his home off Calavo Drive when his niece called about the threat to their home, and her cat.

After a powerful storm lit some trees ablaze and caused power outages for thousands of customers, San Diego County is recuperating. NBC 7’s Audra Stafford has more.

He and others are thankful no homes in the area were damaged and no one was injured.

“I’m feeling great. It didn't catch on fire. It's like that song, 'Duh, duh, duh, your house is on fire,'" Bajoghli laughed.

The North County Fire Protection District had to shut down Rainbow Valley Boulevard in Fallbrook after lightning set fire to a tree and spread to a nearby structure. The fire was contained in about 20 minutes but the road remained closed, NCFPD said in a tweet.

In another posting, the agency warned residents to stay inside while thunderstorms were active.

At around 8 p.m., the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department said crews were responding to at least five lightning-related calls, according to a dispatch supervisor.

One of those calls was a palm tree ignited by lightning along Pacific Highway in Morena.

Maurico De Souza filmed the towering from his surfboard repair shop, Lord of the Dings.

"Oh my God! The fire department's coming,” he said from behind the camera.

One witness said the strike that sparked the fire was unlike any he had ever seen.

“It knocked a guy bigger than me down to the ground. It was very loud. It pretty much might as well have been a missile going off. It was scary," explained Aeron Walls.

No one was injured by the lightning or the fire, but the blaze spread from the trees to at least six shipping containers in the area, SDFD said.  

"Thank God, Mother Nature sent rain down to help the fire guys out. The dangers of lightning strikes," Walls said.

Lightning and rain are expected in parts of San Diego County Monday evening. NBC 7's Dana Griffin shares what to expect.

The National Weather Service in San Diego issued a special weather statement for Escondido, Vista and San Marcos due to wind, hail and lightning.

The NWS said more than 2,000 in-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning strikes were detected over Orange, San Diego and Riverside counties.

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