San Diego County is currently under a Red Flag Warning, meaning high temperatures, strong winds and low humidity make conditions favorable for wildfires.
“It really means that fire is going to spread rapidly, almost explosively,” said San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief of Air Operations Chris Heiser.
The Red Flag Warning is in effect until 8 p.m. Monday. Winds in the mountains and deserts will be between 20 and 30 mph with gusts as high as 65 mph, according to the National Weather Service (NWS.) The strongest gusts are expected late Sunday night and early Monday morning.
The fire department says it isn’t increasing staffing during the Red Flag Warning. However, firefighters plan to upgrade any fire to an immediate first alarm. That means they will deploy their helicopters, tankers and other aircraft to every fire.
“What we want to be able to do is put the resources we need as soon as possible and stop that threat as quickly as possible," Heiser said.
The Bell 52 helicopter is one of the only tools the county has to combat fires at night.
“This helicopter is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Air Operations Crew Chief Bill Alton.
San Diego Fire Rescue Air Operations has two helicopters ready to take off at a moment’s notice along with aircraft from Cal Fire in Ramona and San Diego Gas and Electric.
A separate High Wind Warning is in effect until noon Monday. NWS warns blowing dust could reduce visibility for drivers.