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SoCal communities cope with strong winds

October 22, 2008 11:36:53 PM PDT
The gusty Santa Ana Winds, combined with the high temperatures and minimal humidity, create a perfect equation for fire danger. People in areas like Porter Ranch, which suffered a recent devastating blaze, are bracing for trouble.There was a fire near the 118 Freeway in the Porter Ranch area on Wednesday morning at Browns Canyon Road. Fortunately it was a small fire and it was taken care of quickly.

Dozens of fire crews have been pre-deployed at strategic points in the West Valley in case of a fire.

On Wednesday morning, the winds whipped through the Valley - typical of Santa Ana Winds - but after last week's fires, residents say they're not taking any chances.

"The way I look at it ... I live off of Tampa ... the entire canyon is charred. So, there isn't much else to burn really. So, I feel OK. But, the minute you smell smoke, it's like, 'Oh my God, is something burning again?' You panic because we just went through it," said Suzanne Dersahakian, a Porter Ranch resident.

Forecasters don't think the winds will be as strong as the ones that caused problems in the Sesnon Fire during the week of Oct. 13. The fire started when heavy winds blew down power lines onto dry brush. Almost 15,000 acres burned. Luckily, no structures were damaged.

For Fran Kritzer, the fire came just 15 feet from her home.

"We're used to the winds up here. We are. And there's nothing more that can burn. What can they burn? Everything is gone. All the mountains are burned out here already. And, I just hope we don't get any rain right now because we're going to have mudslides," said Kritzer.

David Foley, who works at D and D Carwash, says on windy days it's hard to get the job done.

"The water flies everywhere, you know what I mean? When you're washing the car itself, the people parked next to you don't particularly like that," said Foley.

A Red Flag Warning means a combination of low humidity, warm weather and strong winds creates dangerous fire conditions. That's why people in the Porter Ranch community are being cautious.

"Actually stronger than usual. But, we live here. We're used to it," said Sofia Daks, a resident of Porter Ranch. "I would worry if the fire was today because it's actually very windy today. But, we're OK. I think it'll be fine."

This is being called a moderate wind event. Winds are gusting at 40 to 50 miles per hour.

Eyewitness News reporters Carlos Granda and Robert Holguin contributed to this report.

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