As San Diegans brace for an early heat wave, the region is preparing for possible safety hazards and heat-related concerns.
“There are many things residents can do to prepare in advance for what we believe will be a very busy summer of fires," said Fire Chief Brian Fennessy, in a statement.
Fire crews are increasing the number of staff available in the City of San Diego because of the heat advisory, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department (SDFD).
Around 3 p.m. Thursday, the heat peaked at 91 degrees in El Cajon. In the days ahead, that number is expected to go up. Meanwhile, the once green hillsides in San Diego are beginning to turn brown and dry.
The slightest spark could cause trouble, like the fire that broke out last week near Interstate 8 in El Cajon.
On Monday, the city held heat training and awareness courses that focus on how to avoid heat illness, heat stroke and exhaustion. Workers were asked to drink a lot of water and take frequent breaks in the shade as the blistering heat approaches.
Joe Yeaky, who works outside cutting grass for the City of El Cajon, told NBC 7 about how he's preparing for the heat.
"We're supposed to drink eight-ounces of water every 15 minutes, when it's over a certain temperature, and they encourage us to take frequent water breaks and go sit in the shade," said Yeaky.
A long period of drought followed by a burst of record rain has created lots of underbrush and grass, said SDFD officials. That's created prime fuel that could easily ignite and spread fast-burning wildfires.
Cal Fire has reminded residents to keep defensible space around their homes from fire hazards and make sure any work to clear space around a structure is done in the morning under the coolest conditions to avoid sparking a fire.
"Really, the big thing with the heat and being fire safe is just be aware. Take care, take caution on what you're doing and think about it before you do it," said Jon Heggie, a captain with Cal Fire.
"If you're gonna be out doing activities, think about what the consequences are of say, dragging a chain behind when you're pulling your boat out to the lake or something," added Heggie.
SDFD officials say they will have five brush engines, each with a crew of four personnel and one water tender available throughout the weekend. The water tenders will carry 3000 gallons of water to supply engines in the case of any brush fires.
"Take certain precautions on these hot days so we don't find yourself in a situation where a fire starts," said Heggie.