A combination of gusty Santa Ana winds, high temperatures and low humidity is elevating San Diego County's fire risk on Thursday and Friday, according to weathercasters.
The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning from noon Thursday until 6 p.m. Friday for the inland valleys, foothills, and mountains due to the elevated fire conditions.
"Any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly," NWS said.
During the warning, humidity levels are expected to drop to about five to 10 percent and Santa Ana winds will pick up into the 50 mile-per-hour range in the mountain passes and foothills, according to NBC 7 Meteorologist Sheena Parveen.
Fall is historically the worst time of the year for damaging wildfires in California. Seven of the state's 10-most destructive wildfires have occurred in October and November.
The fire-whipping winds are produced by surface high pressure over the Great Basin squeezing air down through canyons and passes in Southern California's mountain ranges. They're common in the fall and have a long history of fanning destructive wildfires in the region.
San Diego Gas & Electric warned approximately 34,000 customers in fire-prone areas on Tuesday that their power may be shut off during the Red Flag conditions. By Thursday, the utility said any deliberate outages would only affect about 18,000 customers.
The outage will mark the largest preventative outage in state history to try to avert wildfires caused by faulty lines. SDG&E, Southern California Edison and PG&E are all participating.
Fire departments across the county were preparing for the potentially dangerous weather event.
Valley Center Fire Protection added extra staff until Friday, but Deputy Fire Marshal said he is trying to educate people about fire safety.
"This morning it was 85 percent of possible fires but now it's at 37 percent, it's going down rapidly," Deputy Fire Marshal, Jim Davidson said. "One of the cool things about Valley Center is that it's in the country and people in the country are more self-sufficient than people in the city so we try to give those people the tools they need."
Davidson said he had to stop a few men this morning from using chain saws to cut some oak wood as that could be a potential fire hazard. Davidson said there will be emergency teams looking for that type of activity for the next 24 hours.
San Diego Fire-Rescue added an additional strike team and fire-fighting equipment, including two helicopters and two water tenders, which will be available around the clock to respond to any fires that may spark.
The Lakeside Fire Protection District, the U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire San Diego also started increasing staffing and bringing in more equipment on Monday.
Three air tankers arrived in California from Montana on Wednesday, one of which is stationed at the Ramona Airport in East San Diego County. The BAE-146 drops about 3,000 gallons of fire retardant at a time. Cal Fire San Diego also has access to two smaller planes, which hold about 1,200 gallons of fire retardant each.
"Pay attention to your newscasts, weather forecasts, be prepared all year long, have a plan, an evacuation plan, have your belongings, your essentials. You needed things to take with you if you have to evacuate," Lawler said.
When it comes to wildfire preparations, all the departments say the best thing you can do is be ready all year long. This includes having defensible space around your house.
Most importantly, don't wait until the last minute to get ready.
"We have to be ready but we need the public to ready with us," Cal Fire San Diego Captain Issac Sanchez said.