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Dry conditions, wind gusts bring about red flag warning, possible fire weather for parts of Southern California

With extreme fire weather concerns stoked by the forecast of Santa Ana winds and dry air, weather experts issued a red flag warning in foothill areas of Southern California for most of Friday, Oct. 16, authorities said Thursday.

The warning was issued from 3 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday as wind gusts were anticipated to reach 40 to 50 miles per hour in foothill areas with humidity in the single digits for parts of the day, forecasters said.

Red flag warnings are issued to inform the public of the potential for extreme fire behavior, should a brush fire ignite.

“The weather conditions are there for the possibility of rapid fire-spread,” meteorologist Richard Thompson said. “It doesn’t mean a fire will start, but it’s significant enough to where if something were to get started it could spread very fast.”

The weather pattern comes as fire officials continue to wind down work on the Bobcat and El Dorado fires, which burned through 115,796 acres and 22,744 acres respectively. Firefighters had achieved more than 90 percent containment on both fires Thursday.

Fire officials were also battling the Bruder fire, which started Wednesday night and grew to more than 100 acres by Thursday morning, prompting evacuation orders.

In Los Angeles County, the warning included the Santa Clarita Valley and Los Angeles County mountain areas, such as the San Gabriel Mountains.

Other areas included the Santa Ana Mountains and some parts of inland Orange County, the San Bernardino Mountains and areas below the Cajon and San Gorgonio passes, meteorologist Brandt Maxwell said.

“This is basically a weak-to-moderate Santa Ana wind where we have high pressure over the great basin that brings very dry air over the area,” Maxwell said. “It doesn’t help that we have very dry vegetation as well.”

Los Angeles County valley areas were anticipated to see temperatures from 98 to 102 degrees Friday, Thompson said. In Orange County and the Inland Empire, several areas, including Anaheim, Riverside and San Bernardino, were looking at a high of 100 degrees, Maxwell said.

Because of the high heat, the state issued a flex alert Thursday, asking residents to conserve energy during the peak energy use period between 3 and 10 p.m. That included setting thermostats to 78 degrees and unplugging any devices that weren’t being used.

A flex alert was not planned for Friday, said Anne Gonzales, spokeswoman for the California Independent System Operator, which oversees the operation of the state’s electric power system.

Temperatures should start to taper off in most areas Saturday, meteorologists said, though parts of the Inland Empire would only see a one- or two-degree difference.

“Most areas will drop a few degrees each day, but we won’t be back down to near normal until sometime early next week,” Maxwell said.

Source: Orange County Register

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