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Storm creates dangerous mess around the Coachella Valley

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Firefighters battled a fast-moving brush fire on Monday, on the ground and in the air.
The flames charred more than 135 acres of the mountainside in the Windy Point area of Palm Springs. The flames were 75 percent contained as of 10 p.m. Crews say lightning may be to blame for sparking the fire.

"Reports that came to us with the initial call reported lightning in the area. We believe that's the probable cause," said battalion chief Jim Webb of the Palm Springs Fire Dept.

Crews from Cal Fire, the U.S. Forest Service and the Palm Springs Fire Department hiked the hills to put out the blaze.

However, that wasn't the case when they first arrived. With lightning and high winds posing a threat, firefighters were on standby, taking extra precautions.

"It's injured and killed firefighters over the years so we waited for the storm to pass. The aircrafter pulled off, the helicopters were pulled off ... we didn't put anyone on the line until the (storm) cell moved by and it was calmer conditions for them to walk in," said Richard Gearhart of the U.S. Forest Service.

The powerful storm created more than flames beyond Palm Springs.

Just west of the Coachella Valley in the Banning, Beaumont and Cabazon area, neighbors and drivers were flooded with dangerous conditions.

"It was pouring and a lot of wind, rain coming from all directions," said Israel Orozco of Banning.

That's not all. A viewer sent us video of hail coming down for several minutes.

Just off of Interstate 10, underneath the Ramsey Street overpass, a car was stuck in rising flood waters. The two men inside had to bail out water that nearly reached their windows. Rescue crews used a tractor to scoop them out to safety.

Orozco, a Banning discount store employee, said he steered clear of the flood waters but was stuck for hours mopping up the wet mess that dripped in from the rain.

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