Santa Ana conditions put firefighters on alert

Santa Ana conditions put firefighters on alert 

4 October 2005

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SAN DIEGO – With forecasters predicting a mild Santa Ana wind condition for mid-week, state firefighters are gearing up for possible trouble, bringing in extra equipment and additional manpower.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is putting its five reserve fire engines into service, bringing its total number of available engines to 31, department spokesman Matt Streck saidTuesday.

In addition, five strike teams with a total of 25 CDF engines specifically designed for wildland firefighting are being shifted from northern and central California to the Southern California region. They will be centrally located so they can swiftly respond to any major fires in the region, including in San Diego County, Streck said.

Further, an extra eight “hand crews,” 15 prison inmates trained as wildland firefighters, are being assigned to San Diego County, as are added command staff, Streck said.

“This is not anything different than we did before the Cedar fire,” he said. “It’s just that people may not have been aware of it.”

Forecasters say there will be a mild Santa Ana in the region over the next several days, with breezy winds blowing from east to west and bringing higher temperatures. Northeasterly winds are expected to gust at speeds up to 35 miles per hour with humidity levels as low as 10 percent by day and 15 percent at night.

As a result, the National Weather Service put a red-flag watch into effect in San Diego County’s valleys from Tuesday night through Thursday night.

Further north, red flag warnings of potentially hazardous fire conditions are in effect in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Temperatures in the inland valley areas should rise into the 90s, with those in some coastal areas reaching the high 70s or even perhaps 80.

Cooler weather is expected Friday, with low clouds returning to coastal areas and bringing lower temperatures to the foothills and the inlandareas.


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