Rains, concerted effort slow lightning-triggered fires in East County

Brush fires sparked by lightning strikes burned across several remote, rugged East County locales Thursday, scorching scores of acres but threatening no developed areas.

The flames began spreading near Warner Springs, Scissors Crossing and San Felipe in the early afternoon as thunderheads generated electrical storms across the eastern highlands of San Diego County, according to Cal Fire.

Crews attacking the fires in steep and rocky terrain were aided by four air tankers that dropped chemical retardant on the blazes and several helicopters that dumped water on them.

Within 2 1/2 hours, the fire in the latter location — about three miles west of the intersection of State Route 78 and Highway S2 — had grown to about 100 acres while moving to the northeast into desert lands. The other two were holding at roughly one to several acres each, the state agency reported.

By 5 p.m., heavy rains were pounding the burn area of the biggest blaze, effectively halting its spread.

Firefighters were expected to remain at the lines overnight, making sure all hot spots are fully doused.

The blazes and several others south of the U.S.-Mexico line were sending considerable amounts of smoke through the San Diego region.

Officials asked the public to refrain from tying up emergency phone lines with 911 calls to merely report seeing or smelling the brown, acrid haze in the air.