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Hot, windy weather ahead as Soledad fire mop-up continues

Los Angeles County firefighters work to extinguish flare-ups from the Soledad fire July 6.
Los Angeles County firefighters Justin Corrales, left, and Jason Torres, right, worked with Capt. August Dougherty to extinguish flare-ups Monday along Agua Dulce Canyon Road.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Firefighters continued to make progress Tuesday in their battle to contain a nearly 1,500-acre blaze in the Santa Clarita Valley, but officials are warning that hot and windy weather could create challenging conditions this week.

The Soledad fire, which has burned 1,498 acres, was 87% contained as of 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

All fire-related evacuations were lifted Monday afternoon, and the 14 Freeway — which was temporarily shut down as crews worked to douse the flames — has fully reopened.

No structures have been damaged or are currently threatened.

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While the containment figure has climbed steadily since the fire broke out around 3:30 p.m. Sunday in the area of Soledad Canyon Road and the 14 Freeway, officials warned that “the combination of hot temperatures, low relative humidities, locally gusty winds and drying fuels [would] bring elevated fire weather conditions” to the area Tuesday.

Fire officials said in an incident update that they would monitor the fire throughout the evening and continue to mop up and fully contain the fire on Wednesday.

The fire that began around Soledad Canyon Road and the 14 Freeway on Sunday was about 30% contained as of 9 a.m., the L.A. County Fire Department said.

While the National Weather Service hadn’t issued a formal fire weather watch for the area as of Tuesday morning, that could change later this week, according to Kathy Hoxsie, a meteorologist with the agency’s Oxnard office.

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“This time of year, and any time you have winds, hot weather and low humidity, there’s always what we call an elevated fire weather concern,” she said. “And in particular, Friday through Sunday is what we’re most concerned about.”

Those days will likely see stronger winds — with gusts between 25 and 35 mph and reaching up to 45 mph in valleys, foothills and other inland areas of Los Angeles County — as well as warm temperatures that could push the mercury into triple digits in some places.

None of that is uncommon for July, Hoxsie said.

“We’re coming into the hottest time of the year — late July, early August — but then August, September, October is considered the worst period for fires, because after that heat comes in and dries everything out, there’s really no [precipitation],” she said.

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Hoxsie said low humidity and winds are among the primary factors that play into whether to issue an official fire weather watch or warning. Forecasters also consider how long those conditions are expected to be present.

“Wind and humidity are the two things, and then time,” she said. “Really, you can’t overstate winds.”


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