As firefighters worked to contain a devastating 8,500-acre wildfire cutting through the San Fernando Valley Saturday, forecasters said the Santa Ana winds fanning the flames are expected to weaken.
A combination of gusty Santa Ana winds and low humidity prompted officials to extend a Red Flag Warning for the mountain and valley communities of Los Angeles and Ventura counties through 6 p.m. Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.
Wind gusts of 20 to 30 mph are expected, though forecasters anticipate the winds will shift direction to blow onshore, across coastal and valley areas Saturday afternoon, and then extend into some of the mountain areas later on, weather officials said.
The Santa Ana winds will continue to weaken through the morning, but the single-digit humidity and warm temperatures are expected to continue for inland areas. This means that the area will still experience extreme fire danger, according to NWS.
The Saddleridge Fire exploded in the San Fernando Valley on Thursday, and firefighters had it about 33% contained by Saturday evening, according to fire officials.
As winds weaken, making air firefighting units more effective, the fire department planed to send another aircraft to help battle the flames, according to L.A. County Fire Department Capt. Tony Imbrenda.
“The lack of high wind speed that we saw the first night of this fire really enhanced our ability to start putting more personnel up on the line and utilize our aircraft to get a higher rate of containment,” Imbrenda said.
The fire displaced tens of thousands of people and destroyed or damaged 31 structures, according to LAFD. One Porter Ranch man died of cardiac arrest while trying to protect his home from approaching flames with a garden hose, according to his neighbor.