Red Flag Warning Extended, Calfire Prepared

A Red Flag Warning in San Diego County has been extended until 5 p.m. Thursday, meaning conditions are favorable for wildfires.

“When you’ve got those three issues – the heat, the low humidity and the winds all moving in together – that’s when you get the Red Flag Warning,” explained NBC 7 meteorologist Dagmar Midcap.

Of the 20 most dangerous and deadly wildfires in California history, four happened in Southern California during the month of November, according to Calfire. That’s why the agency has prepared for the increased fire risk.

All 18 Calfire stations and 26 engine companies are fully staffed around the clock, including more than 100 seasonal firefighters, according to Calfire. In addition, the agency’s four bulldozers will be manned at all times and its two contracted air tankers will be on the clock earlier than normal.

The area did get rain recently, but the Santa Ana winds dried things out quickly, according to Calfire Fire Capt. Kendal Bortisser.

“Within four hours of a Santa Ana wind event, the fuels are so dry that the most recent rainfall we’ve had really doesn’t have much impact whatsoever on fuels,” Bortisser said.

“Those (dry fuels) combined with this Red Flag create a situation that in the event something should happen, we have the potential for a major wildfire if one starts,” he said.

Fire experts say a good defense is the best offense against wildfires. That starts with creating up to 100 feet of defensible space around homes. However, experts say people shouldn’t clear shrubbery during a Red Flag Warning; power tools combined with dry conditions could spark a fire.

Remma Maayaa of Rancho San Diego has seen the destruction of a wildfire firsthand. She says her family takes the threat seriously and have already prepared.

“We have a fire box and emergency supplies in house,” Maayaa said. “We have all our birth certificates, some personal items, paperwork and stuff. We have perishable foods and flashlights in the other box.”

Experts say it's smart to have an evacuation route as well.

San Diego County is currently categorized as “moderate” on the government’s Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index.

“The western edges of our San Diego County mountains will be the hardest hit,” Midcap said.

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