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San Diego Fire Department Increases Staffing As Fire Weather Danger Persists
Monday, November 12, 2018
Photo by Milan Kovacevic
Alex Tardy, meteorologist, National Weather Service
Strong and gusty Santa Ana winds, low humidity and warm temperatures will persist Monday, with a red flag warning denoting a strong risk of wildfire in effect in the San Diego County mountains and valleys.
The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning that went into effect at 6 a.m. Sunday in the county mountains and valleys and lasts until 5 p.m. Tuesday. The NWS also issued a high wind warning that remains in effect until 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Along with low humidity levels, the strong Santa Ana winds blowing northeast are to blame for the fire danger, with winds of 20 to 30 mph in the forecast and gusts of 60 mph possible in the county mountains and foothills, according to the NWS. Winds are expected to increase to 30 to 40 mph with gusts of 70 mph possible tonight through Tuesday morning.
Humidity levels will remain in the single digits today with no recovery overnight, according to the Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index. Fuels are very dry and fires will grow rapidly, burn intensely and be difficult to control upon ignition.
Warm seasonal temperatures were also expected to add to the potential fire danger. High temperatures today will be 75 to 80 degrees in the western valleys, 66 to 71 near the foothills and 54 to 62 in the mountains, NWS forecasters said.
The San Diego Fire Department announced that beginning today at 8 a.m., the SDFD will increase staffing by five brush engines, with a crew of four firefighters each, and one battalion chief for a 24-hour period in anticipation of the increased fire danger.
"We've got you covered San Diego," Fire Chief Colin Stowell tweeted. "Winds will be extreme in the next day or so and if a wildfire starts in our city, you may have only minutes to evacuate."
As of 7:36 a.m. Monday, San Diego Gas & Electric shut off power to around 6,100 customers in the Descanso, Buckman Springs and Pine Valley areas as a safety precaution because of the high winds and low humidity, according to SDG&E.
The outages could last until the red flag warning expires Tuesday afternoon and four resource centers are available for residents affected by the outages.
The resources center are located at:
- Mountain Empire High School Gymnasium, 3305 Buckman Springs Road, Campo;
- Potrero Resource Center, 24550 Highway 94, Potrero;
- Camp Oliver Lodge, 8761 Riverside Drive, Descanso;
- Golden Acorn Casino & Travel Center, 1800 Golden Acorn Way, Campo;
With the heightened fire danger, authorities recommended that residents avoid outdoor burning, using lawn mowers or power tools outside and have emergency preparedness kits in order.
"An emergency can happen at any time," a forecaster said in a statement on the Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index Website. "Clean debris away from your house. Charge your cell phone and make sure you have plenty of gas."
In Los Angeles and Ventura counties, Santa Ana winds drove a large wildfire that prompted the evacuation of at least 75,000 homes, officials said. The Woolsey fire, which broke out Thursday afternoon, has scorched 85,500 acres and destroyed at least 177 structures.
Cal Fire projected full containment of the blaze won't come until Nov. 17.
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