• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Red flag warning across most of SoCal

October 1, 2009 12:42:23 AM PDT
A combination of gusty winds, low humidity and high temperatures Thursday triggered a red flag warning across much of Southern California.The red flag warnings are in effect until Friday night, and firefighters are once again prepared for the worst.

"We have augmented staffing, we basically cover more of our engine companies, usually we only have three now we have four engines, just so that we can protect the areas that have high critical fire danger," said Matt Levesque of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Santa Ana winds picked up Wednesday night, but the big concern is the dry conditions. Even though the winds have started to back off, as long as it remains dry the fire danger will remain high.

"Because of the humidity still down, we do have some warm temperatures, all the surrounding brush is still very dry. It would be very easy for it to ignite and still have very large fires," said Levesque.

These conditions are becoming all too familiar to locals.

"I was thinking about it a lot this morning because we've been evacuated up here a couple times and it's come really close, like right behind our house. So it's scary," said Debbie Messman of Santa Clarita. But residents say they feel safe knowing firefighters are ready to go.

"Our firefighters are out there helping, supporting, you know, and being there for us. And that's all we can ask," said Jeffrey Shrewsbury of Santa Clarita.

With the low humidity and high temperatures, firefighters in San Bernardino are just keeping their fingers crossed. It was just a couple of weeks ago when a number of fires broke out in the Inland Empire.

"We can see that the hills aren't brown anymore, it's that amber color. They're really ready to go, and so we need to really be careful about doing things that could cause fires," said Bill Peters from Cal Fire.

Peters said the area has had below average rainfall for three years.

"There is just not a lot of moisture there, so it's very susceptible to even the smallest flame," he said.

At the San Bernardino County air tanker base, two helitankers and two fixed wing aircraft are standing by.

"We have our equipment set up in strike team formation," said Peters. "We have a pre-designated team of fire engines. If we have a break of fire, they all know what they're going to do. Our hand crews are the same way. The idea is to get on the fire as fast as possible, and take it down while it's early and while it's small."

Firefighters quickly knocked down a brush fire Thursday morning in Fontana.

The fire started just east of Interstate 15, forcing officials to close the right lane. The fire burned a couple of acres, but was put out before it could get close to homes.

Officials said it's very important that residents pay attention to what's happening around them to look for any suspicious activity.

Report Typo |  Send Tip |  Get Alerts | Most Popular
Follow @abc7 on Twitter  |  Become a fan on Facebook


Load Comments