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L.A. heat wave, Santa Ana winds prompt brush fire warnings

L.A. heat wave, Santa Ana winds prompt brush fire warnings
An Orange County Fire Authority helicopter makes a water drop on a brush fire in the Cleveland National Forest on Sept. 13. Forecasters say conditions will be ripe for brush fires through Thursday as a heat wave sweeps over the Southland. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A heat wave that is expected to produce near record-breaking temperatures across the Southland this weekend will also create dangerous fire conditions, forecasters warn.

The hot weather, low humidity and Santa Ana winds with gusts of up to 35 mph will combine to create conditions that are ripe for brush fires, according to the National Weather Service.  A fire watch has been issued for all of Ventura and Los Angeles counties starting late Wednesday until early Thursday. 

Authorities have warned that California's prolonged drought has made tinder-dry forests and brush lands particularly susceptible to explosive fires.

Temperatures, meanwhile, are expected to steadily climb through the week, peaking on Saturday, said National Weather Service specialist Stuart Seto. Some parts of the region will likely see triple-digit temperatures, such as Woodland Hills, which could hit 104 degrees -- two degrees shy of the city's record of 106.

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"It's really hot," Seto said. "Normally for this time of the year, it is 80s for downtown Los Angeles and mid-80s for the Valley."

Those expecting a respite from the warmer temperatures will have to wait until next week, when a cooling trend will settle over the area. The beach communities will start experiencing normal temperatures as early as Monday, Seto said, but the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys won't start to see significant effects of a cool-down until the middle of next week.

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