The Region

Hot, dry Santa Ana winds caused authorities to declare a Red Flag fire alert in the Los Angeles area. City Fire Inspector Ed Reed said the alerts, which usually occur only three or four times a year, indicate a time of maximum fire danger. "The major brush fire problems come with the Santa Anas and they arrived Saturday," Reed said. Northeast winds rose to 40 m.p.h. Saturday and hit 30 m.p.h. Sunday. The winds blowing from the desert dry out already parched brush and can touch off fires that are fanned to high temperature by the winds. Reed said helicopter patrols will be maintained above the San Fernando Valley and other brush areas all day during the alert period. The National Weather Service said winds should begin decreasing today as a high pressure area over the Western states weakens.

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