Santa Ana conditions blowing into San Diego County have firefighters on alert amid potentially “explosive” conditions. Mayor Jerry Sanders is urging all San Diegans to take the necessary precautions to remain safe.
Santa Ana conditions were expected to develop Tuesday evening and continue through Wednesday.
“The wind is probably going to be light down where everyone lives, but just up in the canyons and the mountains to the north, easily 30, 40 mile per hour gusts coming from the northeast,” said Meteorologist Alex Tardy of the National Weather Service.
Roughly 42,000 homes in San Diego sit on about 900 linear miles of canyon rims or other areas that directly border nature, according to city officials.
“The homes on those canyon rims are threatened by dense brush in the canyons and the river bottoms that in some cases hasn't burned in more than 60 years,” said Fire Chief Javier Mainar.
Mayor Sanders is asking for San Diegans to be vigilant about creating 100 feet of defensible space around their homes.
“It's not only common sense, it's the law,” said Sanders. “It doesn't take much effort and it might pay dividends that are impossible to measure in dollars alone.”
In the event of an emergency, Chief Mainar urges residents to leave during evacuation orders.
“We lose people every year in the United States who wait too long before they evacuate. They get trapped in clogged roads and fire overruns them and we have plenty of tragedy. When it's time to go, go,” said Mainar.
Since the 2007 fires, Chief Mainar says regional fire departments have new equipment to help during a wildfire including new apparatus, reserve apparatus and kits for pickup trucks. Two helicopters are also now staffed for 24 hours, seven days a week.
Using federal grant dollars, fire communication centers have been tied together to avoid delays in getting help.
“San Diego can dispatch resources from our bordering communities and those communities can dispatch San Diego resources,” said Chief Mainar. “We've also reinforced our ability to get mutual aid from our partners.”