Santa Ana winds increase fire danger in parts of Southern California

Santa Ana winds prompt red-flag fire warning for Los Angeles and Ventura counties

Fire officials remained on high alert Sunday as strong Santa Ana winds continued to pose serious wildfire threats across Southern California, particularly in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Red flag warnings were issued throughout the region as more dry and windy weather was expected Monday.

"Fire folks are very nervous and they should be," said Bill Patzert, a Jet Propulsion Laboratory climatologist. "Things can easily get out of control."

By Sunday afternoon, winds had shifted northeast, prompting gusts of 55 to 65 mph in the San Gabriel mountains. The Newhall Pass and Camp Nine areas had also experienced gusts of 50 to 60 mph, said Scott Sukup, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

"The heightened fire weather concern will be going through [Sunday] evening," Sukup said.

Humidity levels were also expected to drop into single digits. And though winds were expected to slow down this evening, they were forecasted to peak again overnight, Sukup said.

On Monday, temperatures are expected to rise slightly, from the mid 70s to the low 80s.

By early Sunday evening, there were no reports of injuries or major property damage, authorities said.

"People have been very good about reporting sparks from trees and cables, holding off on outdoor cooking and being safe with off-road vehicles," said Brian Humphrey, spokesman with the Los Angeles Fire Department.

In Orange, San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, things were relatively calm with some gusts of 55 mph in the mountains of San Diego County.

In Los Angeles, fire officials said they were taking all precautions, stationing extra firefighters at key locations.

"When it comes to wildfire, wind is king," Humphrey said. "We do our best to be ready to respond quickly so we can prevent property damage or loss of life."

esmeralda.bermudez@latimes.com

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