As communities in Northern California and Ventura County are ravaged by unrelenting wildfires, San Diego County is also facing elevated fire conditions that could be set off by just one small spark.
“It’s indicative of the conditions that we’re facing, not only as a county, but across the state,” Cal Fire Capt. Isaac Sanchez told NBC 7. “Really, all it’s going to take is a small spark to be introduced in the environment, and we’re looking at the potential for a very large and very destructive fire.”
Sanchez urged San Diego residents to remain alert and informed about fire conditions as the red flag warning persists Friday and resurfaces next week.
“Be prepared,” he added. “Be prepared for the effects of fire and let’s practice caution going into next week.”
"As we remember the tragic fires that occurred in October and December of last year, they should serve as a stark reminder for everyone to be prepared for the unexpected," Cal Fire Director Chief Ken Pimlott said.
According to the National Weather Service (NWS), San Diego County is under a Red Flag Warning through 10 p.m. Friday due to strong, gusty winds and low humidity. Local valleys and mountains could see gusts between 20 to 50 mph and inland humidity at 3 to 8 percent. A high wind warning has also been issued for those zones through 6 p.m.
“Winds and low humidity will reach their peak through the morning, then subside later today,” said NBC 7 meteorologist Sheena Parveen.
The NWS said winds are expected to weaken through Saturday, but another round of moderate to strong Santa Ana winds is forecasted on Sunday afternoon and into Monday.
“We will still be dealing with dangerous fire conditions as the low relative humidity levels stick around under at least the early part of next week,” added NBC 7’s Dagmar Midcap. “The elevated fire conditions aren’t going away anytime soon.”
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The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department (SDFD) has increased its staffing in preparation for the red flag warning, adding crews and two firefighting helicopters to its arsenal.
Meanwhile, some local crews have also been dispatched to Ventura County to help battle the Woosley and Hill fires there, which forced evacuations of thousands upon thousands of homes in communities northwest of Los Angeles since they sparked Thursday afternoon.
In Northern California, the fast-moving Camp Fire burning at least 70,000 acres in Butte County nearly quadrupled in size overnight, officials said. Panicked residents raced to evacuate their homes, some driving through walls of flames to escape. Thousands of buildings have been destroyed in that wildfire.
As of 3:15 p.m. Friday, Cal Fire said 240,000 people had been evacuated across the state due to the wildfires.
For information on how to prepare for a wildfire in San Diego, visit this website.
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California endured some of the state’s worst wildfires on record in 2017, including the October Fire Siege in the wine country and the December Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
The Tubbs Fire in the October Fire Siege – fanned by persistent winds in Sonoma and Napa counties – destroyed 5,643 buildings and resulted in 21 deaths. It burned 36,807 acres.
The Thomas Fire, also fanned by gusts, quickly grew into one of the largest fires on record in California, ultimately burning 281,893 acres. It destroyed 1,063 structures, including homes. Two people died in the fire, including a firefighter.