A combination of strong winds, single-digit humidity and record heat prompted the National Weather Service to issue a red-flag warning that was expected to last from 2 a.m. Wednesday to 8 p.m. Thursday in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
Peak gusts were expected in the 60 to 80 mph range in some areas. Fire officials said fire season never ended last year, and the strong winds only elevate the risk of fire.
CalFire has hired additional seasonal firefighters across the state and bolstered the number of fire engines, bulldozers and aircraft.
Fire Chief Ken Pimlott said the state has combated about 1,100 fires this year, when the typical amount is about 500 fires for the same time period.
"We're seeing fires in places in California in January that would normally be burning in August," Pimlott said.
As people headed to the beach to cool off, they may not have found respite from the heat. Newport Beach was 92 degrees on Tuesday, breaking a record of 86 degrees in 1921.
High surf advisories are in also in effect at some beaches.