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Santa Ana Conditions Have Fire Crews On High Alert

Evening Edition

Aired 10/2/13 on KPBS News.

With possible winds up to 50 mph for the inland valleys and even stronger gusts in the mountain and desert areas, frontline fire engines are fully staffed this weekend.

— Be aware of your surroundings this weekend if you're mowing the lawn or barbecuing: Gusty winds and low humidity are expected to heighten the risk of wildfire across the county. 

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection crews are on high alert for a moderate Santa Ana this weekend with possible winds up to 50 mph for the inland valleys and even stronger gusts in the mountain and desert areas. Some of the most destructive fires in California and San Diego have occurred in October.

"We're going to be staffing up all of our front-line engines, all of our reserve apparatus, bringing on additional crew, also additional personal throughout the unit," CDF Fire Capt. Kendal Bortisser said.

Bortisser said that means the normal three-day, 72-hour work week will be extended based on the needs of the unit. And with the partial government shutdown, they'll also be available to assist with any troubles in the Cleveland National Forest.

"So in the event of any kind of fire, we're going to be working closely together to do what we need to do to mitigate the situation and get the fire put out," Bortisser said, adding it's peak wildfire season and drought conditions have created plenty of fuel to fan the flames.

"We've had reduced rainfall throughout Southern California this year," he said. "We're in tinder-dry conditions and we're certainly on high alert here in San Diego."

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