Strong winds increasing fire danger

Strong winds increasing fire danger

6 October 2005

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The National Weather Service warned of strong winds and an increased fire danger for today and Wednesday.

“It’s that time of year,” said Bill Hoffer, a meteorologist with the weather service.

A dry low-pressure system moved into Los Angeles County Monday evening, causing humidity levels to plummet between 5 percent and 15 percent, “consequently drying out all the material on the ground,” Hoffer said.

The low pressure system sucks air from surrounding high pressure areas, causing wind gusts of 45 mph or more to buffet through the forested passes and canyons.

The dry weather and high winds have firefighters and forest officials concerned.

“We’re on alert, especially on red-alert days,” said County Fire Inspector Ed Osorio by telephone from the lines of the Topanga Fire. “Firefighters know and prepare themselves to be on a brush fire at any given time.”

Osorio added that all fire patrols will be staffed today, he added.

Forest officials raised the fire danger level from high to very high starting today.

“While the change from high to very high doesn’t increase fire restrictions, it does indicate an upward trend in fire danger that forest visitors need to be aware of,” said Don Feser, Angeles National Forest fire chief. “Nearly all fire in the Angelesare human-caused.”

Feser said visitors to the forest need to pay extra attention to fire restrictions.

Wood and charcoal barbecues are limited to recreation sites and certain stoves require a California campfire permit. Fireworks are not allowed at all. Spark arresters are required on off-road vehicles, chain saws and other equipment.

Smoking is not allowed outside of restricted areas. Tracer, armor-piercing or steel-core ammunition is prohibited. And welding, grinding and the use of explosives also are banned.

“It’s never routine when there’s a red flag warning, particularly when we have vegetation conditions like we have in the fall,” said Kathy Peterson, a spokeswoman for the Angeles National Forest.

The winds should die down by Wednesday afternoon, Hoffer said. High temperatures in the upper 80s and low 90s are expected until Monday.


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