Friday, Oct. 4—
A red flag warning signaling a heightened risk of wildfire is in force today due to warm, windy and extremely dry conditions, meteorologists said.
The warning will be in effect until 6 p.m. Sunday because of a critical combustion risk resulting from strong Santa Ana winds from the northeast coupled with humidity levels dipping below 15 percent and possibly into the single digits, according to the National Weather Service.
Cal Fire has brought extra equipment and staff to Ramona Airport, which serves as an air attack base.
“We just want to make sure we’ve done everything we can,” said Nick Schuler, Cal Fire public information officer.
Ca lFire has increased the number of air tankers at the base from two to four, and helicopters from one to three, he said. Additional staff, including pilots, will also be on hand at the airport.
The state fire agency has also activated Brown Field in San Diego as a retardant base, Schuler said, to prevent the possibility of too many aircraft loading at the Ramona Airport at the same time. Brown Field would also be more convenient if a fire starts in the southern part of the county, he said.
Shuler said winds gusts of 55 mph are predicted.
By this evening and into Saturday morning, winds of 20 to 30 miles per hour with peak gusts of 55 to 70 mph will sweep canyons and foothill valley areas downwind of Cuyamaca Lake and Hellhole Canyon in Valley Center, the NWS said in an advisory.
A red flag warning is the most serious fire-related caution issued by the NWS.
he agency also issued a separate high wind warning, effective until noon Sunday, for the valleys and mountains. A high wind warning means a hazardous high wind event capable of causing property damage is expected or occurring.
The strongest winds will be during the late night into early morning hours each day through Sunday, an NWS advisory said.
Area firefighting agencies are high alert while the dicey weather prevails.
“By this time of year, conditions in many areas are at their driest of the season,” Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott said in a statement. “When you add in strong winds, it makes this time of year a perfect recipe for wildfires. Even though it is fall, we need the public to understand that we are still in fire season throughout much of California and everyone must take extra precautions to avoid sparking a wildfire.
Some fire prevention tips:
•Don’t mow or trim dry grass on windy days.
•Never pull your vehicle over dry grass.
•Never burn landscape debris like leaves or brnahces on No Burn days or when it’s windy.
•Target shoot only in approved area, use lead ammunition only and never shoot at metal targets.
More fire prevention tips are at www.PreventWildfireCA.org.
For evacuation tips, visit www.ReadyForWildfire.org.
A cold low pressure system from the northwest could provide a significant shift in the weather early next week. According to the NWS, the system could bring rain and mountain snow to the region Wednesday or Thursday.