Searing temperatures are expected to peak Wednesday across Southern California as firefighters gird themselves for yet another day of extreme fire danger.
The dry, hot, windy conditions have been fueling fast-moving brush fires in San Diego and Santa Barbara counties that have so far burned hundreds of acres and forced mandatory evacuations in both areas.
Adding to the fire danger Wednesday will be strong Santa Ana winds, with gusts of up to 50 mph in the mountain passes and 40 mph in the valleys, the weather service warned. A red-flag warning remains in effect through Wednesday evening.
Similar conditions in San Diego County fanned the Bernardo fire to more than 800 acres Tuesday evening, prompting evacuation calls to thousands of homes and businesses. In Santa Barbara County, the Miguelito fire near Lompoc swelled in size Tuesday afternoon to about 700 acres, prompting mandatory evacuation orders for 1,200 homes and businesses.
The heat will only ease by a few degrees on Thursday as the high-pressure system over the region begins to weaken, the weather service said. By Friday, temperatures are expected to start dropping into the upper 80s to mid-90s inland and around 80 degrees at the beaches.