Red Flag Warning Extended to Saturday Evening as Critical Fire Weather Conditions Persist

The Maria Fire is seen burning in the hills above the town of Santa Paula Oct. 31, 2019. in Ventura, California. (Credit: Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

The Maria Fire is seen burning in the hills above the town of Santa Paula Oct. 31, 2019. in Ventura, California. (Credit: Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

Critical fire weather is expected to continue into Saturday across much of Ventura and Los Angeles counties as the Maria Fire continues to burn, and authorities have issued air quality alerts for several fires in the broader region.

A red flag warning that was due to expire at 6 p.m. Friday was extended to 6 p.m. Saturday.

The warning includes the area where more than 500 firefighters are continuing to battle the Maria Fire, which broke out on Thursday evening on South Mountain, between Somis and Santa Paula.

Offshore wind gusts of 25 to 35 mph are expected, with relative humidities remaining very low, the National Weather Service said.

Compared to earlier this week, winds have subsided a bit and the cold temperatures have reduced the fire’s ability to move downhill aggressively, the Ventura County Fire Department said.

Meanwhile, officials warned of unhealthy air quality in Ventura County caused by the Maria Fire.

Smoke advisories were lifted for the Getty Fire, Hill Fire, 46 Fire and Hillside Fire, the South Coast Air Quality Management District announced Friday.

An air quality advisory remained in place in the Coachella Valley, however, as the Martinez Fire continued to burn in Riverside County, according to AQMD. Smoke from the Martinez Fire has been impacting Thermal, La Quinta and Mecca, as well as communities near the Salton Sea, the agency said.

Towards Friday evening and Saturday morning, winds are expected to come from the north and push smoke southward toward the Salton Sea, authorities said.

Air quality will likely continue to change while there are active fires and shifting winds. Children, the elderly, and those with respiratory conditions such as asthma, COPD, emphysema and heart disease are most impacted the unhealthy air quality, the Ventura County Public Health Department said in a health advisory Friday.

To decrease exposure to wildfire smoke and to limit harmful effects from smoke, the department urged the public to limit time outside and stay indoors as much as possible. In addition, they said to seek shelter in buildings with filtered air or to move to areas outside the region less impacted by wildfire smoke until smoke levels subside, if possible.

“If you smell smoke or see ash falling, it’s best to be inside.  People with heart or lung disease are at particular risk from smoke exposure,” said Dr. Robert Levin, Ventura County’s Public Health Officer.

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