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San Diego Fire Crews Stand Ready As Santa Ana Winds Arrive

Credit: Swift Benjamin

CALFIRE helicopter dropping water

Staying Safe Amid Increased Fire Danger

A few helpful reminders and fire prevention tips include:

  • Don’t mow or use a weed-eater to trim dry grass on windy days.
  • Ensure campfires are allowed, and if so, be sure to extinguish them completely.
  • Never pull over your vehicle in dry grass.
  • Never burn landscape debris like leaves or branches on “NO Burn Days” or when it’s windy.
  • Make sure all portable gasoline-powered equipment have spark arresters.

Source: CAL FIRE

— State firefighters are bracing for a hot blustery weekend as Santa Ana wind conditions return to much of the state. A red flag warning is in effect until Sunday night. That's means the fire danger is high as long as the hot offshore winds persist.

Nick Schuler works for CAL FIRE in San Diego. He said Santa Ana Winds drove the flames that burned large swaths of the county in 2003 and 2007.

"They're basically wind driven fires that are basically fueled by the winds that can exceed 50 to 60 miles an hour. Anytime we get a report of a fire we immediately dispatch a large number of resources," Schuler said.

San Diego has twice as many firefighting aircraft ready to react if a fire breaks out and Schuler said hand crews, fire engines and other firefighting resources have also been boosted. That's so local firefighters can react quickly.

"We have twice as many aerial firefighting resources as we normally do. There are four air tankers and eight helicopters in the county as well as additional engines, hand crews, and other critical resources," Schuler said.

Firefighting operations in California will not be affected by the government shutdown if wildfires ignite this weekend amid the dry and windy conditions. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant said firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service are exempt from furloughs due to the shutdown.

Almost all of the Forest Service's firefighting air tankers are also in California now because fire season is winding down elsewhere in the west.

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