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Hot, Dry, Windy: 'Elevated Fire Weather Concerns' Are Possible This Weekend

A National Weather Service forecast coincides with a Cal Fire reminder of Santa Ana winds and the need to be vigilant for arsonists.

Hot, dry conditions coupled with weak Santa Ana winds are expected to produce "elevated fire weather concerns" Sunday through Tuesday next week in the Redlands-Loma Linda area, according to the National Weather Service.

The forecast for "weak offshore flow produced by high pressure over the Colorado region" coincides with a reminder this week from Cal Fire of Santa Ana winds and the need to be vigilant for arsonists.

"The extreme fire hazard that exists across San Bernardino County and the Inland Empire grows in potential with the arrival of the Santa Ana winds," Bil Peters of the Cal Fire San Bernardino Unit said in a statement.

"The 'Devil Winds' as they are known, race through Southern California primarily during the months of October through December," Peters said.

Peters cited a recent California Insurance Industry study that concluded more than 109,000 homes in San Bernardino County are exposed to potential high wildfire danger.

The same study found more than 79,000 homes in Riverside County face extreme wildfire hazards.

"As we have witnessed through the years, many of California's most disastrous fires have been driven by strong, dry Santa Ana winds," Peters said. "This includes the Panorama fire of November 1980, that destroyed 345 structures and killed four people, the 2003 Grand Prix and Old fires, the deadly Esparanza fire."

Awareness of fire danger should be a priority for all residents of San Bernardino County and the Inland Empire, "especially those who live and recreate in the mountains and wildland areas," Cal Fire San Bernardino Deputy Chief Rod Bywater said.

The Santa Ana wind cycle begins when high pressure from the northeast pushes hot dry winds into Southern California, Peters said.

"These winds initially occur approximately every ten days," Peters said. "The frequency of the wind events increases as the weeks go by until December when the wind events can happen about every three or four days. The racing winds, dry weather, and low humidity combine to create a prescription for disaster."

Hot, dry vegetation and windy conditions beckon to the destructive tendencies of arsonists, which is why residents everywhere, especially in mountain and wildland areas, should pay attention to suspicious actions, Peters said.

"If you see something, say something," Peters said. "Report suspicious actions to Cal Fire, your local fire agency or law enforcement."

To see a state map of widfire risk figures by county, visit www.iinc.org/Wildfire-Risk-A-County-By-County-View.

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