Southland fire weather continues

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Monday, Dec. 16, 2013 - Downtown Los Angeles is seen in the distance through dry brush at Griffith Park. (AP Photo/Nick Ut,File)

Monday, Dec. 16, 2013 – Downtown Los Angeles is seen in the distance through dry brush at Griffith Park. (AP Photo/Nick Ut,File)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A red flag warning denoting a high wildfire risk stemming from stiff winds and single-digit humidity levels was scheduled to be in effect over much of the Southland again today as temperatures climb into the 80s.

The Santa Ana winds sweeping the region are the result of strong surface high pressure over the Great Basin, according to the National Weather Service.

Forecasters said the wind would gust at between 50 and 60 miles per hour in the mountains, and even 70-mph gusts are possible. Coastal and valley areas could experience gusts of between 40-50 mph, and humidity levels will stay low.

The red flag warning went into effect early yesterday and was scheduled to remain in force until 6 p.m. Wednesday in all of Ventura County and most of L.A County. The warning applies to the Santa Monica and San Gabriel mountains, the Angeles National Forest in L.A. County, the Los Padres National Forest in Ventura County, the Santa Clarita, San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys and L.A.’s coastal zone, which includes the beach, the Westside, metropolitan Los Angeles including downtown L.A. and the Hollywood Hills.

The wind was expected to blow at sustained speeds of 25-40 mph in the mountains and around 15-30 mph in the valleys, according to the NWS.

A high wind warning will be in effect until noon Wednesday in the San Gabriel and Santa Monica mountains and a less serious wind advisory will be in effect in the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys and L.A.’s coastal zone, from the beach to the Hollywood Hills.

Responding to the conditions, the Los Angeles Fire Department announced it will “retain augmented staffing across the city while pre-deploying equipment and personnel to areas of known brush fire danger.”

A statement said interim Fire Chief James Featherstone has authorized the uninterrupted staffing of 21 additional LAFD Engines to serve the department’s increased needs.

“Additional LAFD Engines will be strategically placed and dynamically deployed throughout the day from stations in Woodland Hills, West Hills, Encino, Sylmar, Porter Ranch, Sun Valley, Laurel Canyon, Mount Olympus, Bel Air, the Hollywood Hills and Santa Monica Mountains,” it said.

Fifteen “quick response” four-wheel-drive Brush Patrol units with firefighting capability will be available at other LAFD stations, and a five-unit “strike team” of these vehicles will stay at-the-ready near the base of the Sepulveda Pass. Additionally, two LAFD water tenders and a department bulldozer strike team will remain staffed in the San Fernando Valley during the red flag warning, it said.

The department also appealed to residents “to remain watchful for convoys of fire department apparatus and to be mindful of the space necessary for them to safely maneuver on local roads and highways.”

Temperatures, meanwhile, will remain on the warm side. The NWS forecast sunny skies and highs today of 66 in Palmdale and Lancaster; 67 on Mount Wilson; 75 in Saugus; 76 in Avalon; 77 in Newport Beach; 80 at LAX; 81 in Woodland Hills; 82 in Pasadena and San Gabriel; 83 in Long Beach, Anaheim and downtown L.A.; and 85 in Burbank.

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