With moderate Santa Ana winds expected to bring critical fire weather conditions to parts of Southern California this weekend, CalFire is pre-deploying six military helicopters and 75 fire engines into the region.
“Everyone needs to be thinking right now no matter where you’re at in California – what’s my evacuation plan, what am I going to take with me, how am I going to get out," said Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott Friday.
"Be prepared to do that literally at a moment’s notice. Not a half hour, not an hour, you need to be thinking about that in minutes," he added.
California has been coping with the deadliest week of wildfires the state has ever seen.
The death toll in the wine country fires stands at an unprecedented 31 and was expected to keep rising.
Much of the state is under a red flag warning or smoke warning with winds coming from the north and the east.
To prepare for that CalFire has pre-deployed three U.S. Navy firefighting helicopters that will be located at NAS North Island and three U.S. Marine firefighting helicopters that will be located on either Camp Pendleton or MCAS Miramar, Pimlott said.
“All of these resources will be nimble and they will be prepared to deploy either back to NorCal should they be needed or into SoCal should additional fires break out there,” Pimlott said
Mobilization centers have been established in central and Southern California, the Cal Fire official explained. The agency has access to 75 additional fire engines from outside of the state of California.
“Our county is going to be getting the air flow but we’re not going to be dealing with heavy winds,” said NBC 7 Meteorologist Jodi Kodesh.
Even though winds are expected to peak at 25 mph Saturday evening, San Diego County will have elevated fire danger.
“It really doesn’t matter this time of year because we are so critically dry,” Kodesh said.
Humidity will be very low and some locations could see sustained winds of over 25 mph in the San Bernardino and Riverside County valleys as well as the Inland Empire, the NWS forecasted.
Winds are expected to diminish Sunday afternoon with low humidity hanging around through Monday.
In Northern California, fire agencies from around the country are sending in reinforcements to help firefighters who have been on the line since wildfires broke out in Sonoma and Napa counties Sunday.
At least 3,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed in 22 wildfires burning across the state.
The Sonoma County Sheriff's Department is still investigating hundreds of missing person reports.
“We had series of statewide fires in 2003, 2007, 2008 that didn’t have anything close to this death count,” said Daniel Berlant, a deputy director with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
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