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Southern California prepares for more hot weather and extreme fire danger

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Red flag warnings have been issued for a large swath of Southern California.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

It’s that time of year in Southern California.

The National Weather Service on Saturday issued a red flag warning, indicating extreme fire danger, from Santa Barbara to San Bernardino counties for the next three days as higher-than-normal temperatures and Santa Ana winds combine to create volatile conditions.

An excessive heat watch will remain in effect in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties through Tuesday. Temperatures on Sunday are expected to range from the mid-80s at the beaches to the lower to mid-90s in inland areas, with northwest winds of 15-25 mph.

Temperatures are expected are expected to climb into the triple digits throughout the region, beginning Monday, forecasters said.

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The red flag warning puts firefighters on alert for the possibility of “rapid or dramatic increases” in wildfire activity. A high-pressure system is expected to bring the hottest temperatures on Monday and Tuesday as well as moderate Santa Ana winds.

“This is traditionally the time of year when we see these strong Santa Ana winds,” said Cal Fire director Ken Pimlott in a statement. “And with an increased risk for wildfires, our firefighters are ready. Not only do we have state, federal and local fire resources, but we have additional military aircraft on the ready. Firefighters from other states, as well as Australia, are here and ready to help in case a new wildfire ignites.”

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.

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Some of those fires merged as about 11,000 firefighters struggled to establish containment lines and prevent the spread of the flames.

As of Friday morning, there were still seven large wildfires burning in the region, but firefighters had achieved near full containment, or were close to doing so, on all of them, according to Cal Fire.

A high-pressure system will peak over California on Tuesday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Robbie Munroe. Northern California will also have higher-than-normal temperatures but not enough to warrant a red flag warning.


UPDATES:

8:45 a.m.: This article was updated with new information from the National Weather Serivce.

This article was originally posted at 2:40 p.m. on Oct. 21, 2017.


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