Firefighters have ramped up staffing levels as strong winds blow into San Diego County, bringing gusts of strengths we haven’t seen since 2007. Although conditions aren’t as hot and dry as 2007, according to forecasters.
“We have increased our staffing on engines, hand crews, bulldozers and aircraft,” said Cal Fire spokesperson Capt. Mike Mohler.
Strong, damaging winds could possibly arrive in San Diego County on Thursday evening, according to forecasters.
The momentum is expected to come from the Northeast, creating a funneling effect through our passes and canyons and causing gusty conditions all the way to the coastline, said meteorologist Jodi Kodesh.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a wind advisory for our coastal areas and inland valleys. It’s in effect through Friday at 2 p.m. Sustained winds of 25 mph are possible, with gusts to 40 mph. The NWS has also issued a high wind warning for our mountains, with sustained winds of 40 mph possible and gusts to 70 mph.
There were a couple of lightning strikes Thursday morning near Descanso, Kodesh said.
“The recent devastating wildland fire in Reno, Nevada is a reminder that fires can burn during the winter months even when temperatures are low,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, Cal Fire director. “With the strong winds forecasted the fire danger will increase in many areas and we will have extra firefighters on duty so that we can respond to any new wildfires that may ignite.”
Fire ravaged much of San Diego County in 2007, and although conditions this week are not as hot and dry, firefighters are still keeping a close eye on the county. Especially on areas that didn’t burn.
“Our main areas of concern are really countywide, but we do look at areas that have not burned in several years which have large fuel beds,” said Capt. Mohler.
The county has a “Fire Hazard Severity Zoning” map that shows which areas they’re most concerned about.
“The fire map was created by the county to make sure we monitor high hazard areas but also so we can watch fire history trends,” said Capt. Mohler.
One of the areas of concern is off Interstate 8 towards Buckman Springs and down to the U.S./Mexico border. The area hasn’t burned since the old Laguna Fire burn in 1970, according to Cal Fire.
Another area that has little fire history in the last 30 years is the backside of Palomar Mountain coming up Highway 79, according to Cal Fire.
The third area of concern is coming down Interstate-15 out of Temecula.
Cal Fire works with residents to make sure that these areas are ready for brush fires.
“We use the Ready, Set, Go program along with community events to stress the importance of vegetation management,” said Capt. Mohler.
The program can be found at readyforwildfire.org
The map (seen below) shows the zones considered a “very high” hazard in red, “high” hazard in orange and “moderate” hazard in yellow. Click here for a larger version.