LOS ANGELES (AP) – Firefighters were on alert Friday as hot, dry Santa Ana winds brought a second day of high fire danger to Southern California.
No problems were reported, but the National Weather Service said winds could gust to 65 mph into Saturday in the mountains and valleys. Gusts of 64 mph at Whitaker Peak and 57 mph in the Malibu Hills were recorded early Friday morning.
Red flag warnings were up in many areas because the winds, low humidity and high temperatures “will create explosive fire growth potential,” a weather service statement said.
Friday’s high could hit 88 in Los Angeles.
The state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said it was positioning additional fire engines, bulldozers, fire crews and aircraft in strategic locations.
Recent significant rain in California helped much of the northern and central areas of the state, but the south remains dry and has the potential for large fires, CalFire Director Ken Pimlott said in a statement.
The Santa Anas, the withering gusts of dry air that suck the moisture out of vegetation and can whip flames into conflagrations, arrived Thursday night after a north wind blowing across the regions shifted to the northeast.
On Thursday afternoon, Los Angeles County dispatched 150 firefighters and unleashed water-dropping helicopters and airplanes on a brush fire that erupted in the canyon-laced Santa Clarita area. It appeared to be under control in less than an hour after burning about 5 acres.
Santa Ana winds are spawned by high pressure over the Great Basin. Descending cold, dry air flows in a clockwise direction across the high desert, then speeds up and warms as it descends through Southern California’s mountain passes and canyons and sweeps out to sea. That has often spelled fire trouble for foothill- and wildland-adjacent communities.
The Los Angeles Fire Department increased its staffing and activated the city’s red flag alert system, restricting parking on certain narrow streets in brush areas to keep them accessible to fire engines.