'Unusual' late season heat wave to scorch Southern California; dangerous fire conditions expected

A sweltering heat wave will blanket Southern California through the middle of the week, elevating the risk of wildfires and potentially breaking heat records, forecasters said.

The National Weather Service on Monday issued a red flag warning through Wednesday, saying the high temperatures and Santa Ana winds will "bring the most dangerous fire weather conditions that Southwest California has seen in the past few years."

The hottest and driest conditions are expected Monday and Tuesday, with record-breaking triple-digit heat and humidity lowering into single digits.

Should a fire break out, "there will be the potential for very rapid fire spread… and extreme fire behavior that could lead to a significant threat to life and property," the weather service said.

Southern California’s hot and dry conditions come as firefighters begin to stand down from a series of massive wildfires that devastated Northern California’s wine country, claiming more than 40 lives and taxing resources.

Stoked at times by 50-mph winds, there have been 18 large wildfires in Northern California that have displaced about 100,000 people and destroyed approximately 7,700 homes and other buildings since Oct. 8, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

"This is a very unusual late season heat wave and should not be taken lightly," the weather service said.

There will also be elevated fire danger across Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties through Tuesday, especially in the Central Coast, forecasters said.

sarah.parvini@latimes.com

For more local and breaking news, follow me on Twitter: @sarahparvini

Times staff writer Javier Panzar contributed to this report.

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