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San Diego Red Flag Warning Prompts Cal Fire Staffing Levels Boost

Cal Fire crews work to extinguish the Jennings Fire, July 11, 2017.

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: Cal Fire crews work to extinguish the Jennings Fire, July 11, 2017.

With high temperatures, low humidity levels and Santa Ana winds, Cal Fire announced Friday it would boost its staffing levels in preparation for "critical fire weather conditions."

"Though Cal Fire has year round staffing in Southern California, these conditions have warranted adding additional resources for the duration of the Fire Weather Watch that brings an elevated threat of wildfire," Cal Fire San Diego Unit Fire Chief Tony Mecham said.

Cal Fire officials warned that the chance of wildfires created by the hot, dry weather and Santa Ana winds will be exacerbated by fuels that are "very dry and will support significant fire activity should an ignition occur."

The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning that starts Saturday at 10 a.m. and expires Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Meteorologist Alex Tardy said San Diego needs rain, but it is not showing up in the forecast.

"Two weeks, three weeks, nothing appreciable is showing up," said Tardy. "We continue to see the additional potential for a Santa Ana wind event later this month and another heat wave."

The steps Cal Fire will take to prepare for the dangerous weather include calling all Cal Fire San Diego personnel back to work — even those who have been or still are battling the deadly blazes in the north of the state.

Cal Fire San Diego officials will also:

—Utilize San Diego County Fire Reserve firefighters to increase staffing on all front-line fire engines and to staff five county water tenders.

—Fund the City of San Diego and the North Zone to each staff a strike team of wildland fire engines.

—Open the Brown Field Reload Base at the Otay Mesa airport and stage two large air tankers there.

RELATED: Living With Wildfires: San Diego Firestorm 10 Years Later

Cal Fire officials have also made contact with state firefighting officials in Baja California "and are prepared to use our agreement with Mexico if needed." And Cal Fire personnel have been assigned to the Navy and Marine Corps "in the event military helicopters are needed" as part of a Defense Support to Civilian Authorities immediate response agreement.

Fire officials asked San Diego County residents to "be extra cautious during the heightened fire danger period in order to prevent wildfires," reminding the public that "one less spark means one less wildfire."

The state firefighting agency is particularly concerned about the upcoming fire weather, given the wildfire emergency in Northern California, where 42 people have been killed.

If you want to keep an eye out for wildfires, UC San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography is allowing the public access to cameras on top of some of San Diego's highest points. The cameras are part of a "High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network" (HPWREN) for Southern California.

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