It's cold at night. It's dark by 6. Fall is finally here.
That doesn't mean fire season, which usually lasts from May to mid-December, is over. In fact, we're still in the heart of it.
“Don't get complacent,” Ventura County Fire Department Capt. Scott Detorre told ABC Los Angeles as he stood near a 40-acre Simi Valley brush fire last night. “Just because it's cool does not mean it's not dry. It's still very, very dry. We are in the heart of fire season for Southern California.”
The federal Wildlife Fire Management Program said in an outlook paper that November is indeed bringing us “above-normal significant fire potential … across Southern California due to continued drought.”
The Los Angeles Fire Department reminded us of this fact last night by declaring in a statement that it will “augment staffing and pre-deploy firefighting resources due to heightened wildfire danger.”
The city move is just shy of official “red flag” restrictions, which would prevent residents in some hillside communities from parking on streets to clear the way for firefighters should the worst happen.
But the National Weather Service and state fire officials have announced that a red flag fire warning is in effect for the Los Angeles and Ventura county mountains, the San Fernando Valley, the Santa Clarita Valley and the Ventura County coast through Friday evening.
A “fire weather watch” also was issued by the weather service. It covers Malibu and the Hollywood Hills through Friday afternoon.
Forecasters blame a high-pressure system that's pushing north and northeast winds offshore. Those Santa Ana winds are cool and dry and could whip up any hint of flame.
“This will bring critical red flag warning conditions to wind-prone areas,” the NWS said in an “urgent fire weather message” issued last night.
AccuWeather says high temperatures in the L.A. Basin could reach the upper 70s Friday and even the lower 80s Saturday. Rain is possible next week, forecasters said, but until then fire officials are focusing on this dangerous wind.
The LAFD has a bulldozer team, a five-piece brush patrol strike team that includes four-wheel-drive firefighting vehicles, a pair of 2,500-gallon water tenders and extra command teams at the ready, the department says.
“The plan authorized by Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph M. Terrazas will include the temporary staffing and dynamic deployment of 11 extra engines from fire stations in Lincoln Heights, Central City East, Echo Park, Palms, Pacific Palisades, Reseda, Tujunga, Mission Hills, North Hollywood and Chatsworth,” LAFD's Brian Humphrey said.
“In addition, 10 regularly staffed LAFD engines from areas with historically low wildfire danger will be pre-deployed in a pair of highly mobile strike teams in the central San Fernando Valley and Hollywood Hills, while a trio of other engines will be sent to stations in Bel Air, Sylmar and West Hills.”