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Santa Ana winds increase fire threat

November 12, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Sant Ana winds and high temperatures have firefighters on high alert. A red flag warning goes into effect Saturday in areas of the Inland Empire.Firefighters say recent rainfall has not eased threat of wild fires.

"Residents are encouraged to prepare for it as if we had no moisture. We've been fortunate to get a little rain with the Santa Anas but it does not rule it all out," said Insp. Frederic Stowers with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

A small brush fire broke out west of the Riverside County line along the 241 Freeway Friday afternoon. Part of the freeway was shut down as the fire burned. Firefighters were able to get a handle on the blaze quickly, an important factor when battling dry, windy weather conditions.

Two helitankers are standing by at the San Bernardino Air Tanker Base. They can be up in the air within minutes if necessary.

"One of the things that we're watching with this La Niña is the fact that we're going to have these heating periods, and then cool and wet, and then back to heat, so there's a chance we're going to be fighting fire on Thanksgiving weekend or into the Christmas holidays," said John Miller with the U.S. Forest Service.

Inland Empire residents continued to clean up the mess left by Thursday's Santa Ana wind event. In Ontario, Ursula Biloschaetzke said it could cost nearly $2,000 to remove some bougainvillea bushes that tumbled over yesterday, knocking over her back fence.

"The weight of the bushes and the wind - it was bound to happen," she said.

With a red flag warning on the horizon, she's doing what she can to prepare for the possibility of fire.

"I cancelled my weekend plans. I have to go to work on Monday but meanwhile I want to keep everything as wet as possible," said Biloschaetzke.


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