The arrival of Santa Ana winds during very dry and hot conditions in Southern California raises the chances of new fires and the growth of those already burning, prompting a red flag warning on Monday.
Forecasters predicted winds to gust 30 to 45 mph and humidities to drop as low as 8%.
A red flag warning issued by the National Weather Service was effective 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. for much of the region. That included the Santa Clarita Valley and the mountains of Los Angeles County, where the 114,200-acre Bobcat Fire was 62% contained.
The Santa Anas came into the burn area at around 3 a.m. to 5 a.m., L.A. County Fire Department spokesman Sky Cornell said. Gusts of about 30 to 35 mph at the top of the ridges threaten to drive flames, he said.
Around 8:30 p.m., fire officials said the blaze had not grown in acreage or containment.
But dry, hot weather with low humidity and offshore breezes was expected to keep hazardous fire conditions lingering through Friday, the National Weather Service said.
The heat wave is expected to pick up Tuesday, with temperatures up to 105 degrees predicted through Thursday.
Strike teams of dozens of firefighters have been deployed to the Santa Clarita Valley and La Cañada Flintridge in case of any fire growth. Evacuation orders remain in place for parts of Antelope Valley foothills (see a map below).
“We’re just going to make sure that as the winds come from the east, northeast area, that they don’t blow too far west,” Cornell said.
He added that the Mount Wilson area’s steep terrain continues to pose a challenge for firefighters, who are battling the flames from the air.
Crews hope to fully contain the blaze by the end of the month, but Cornell said the year’s most destructive fires typically burn September through November.
“This is definitely an extreme fire season,” said Pono Barnes with the county Fire Department. “We’ve been at it quite a long while now. Resources all throughout the state of California are responding to various fires.”
Monday afternoon, a 320-acre wildfire erupted in Angeles National Forest about 20 miles from the Bobcat Fire, forcing evacuation orders that would remain in place overnight. The Martindale Fire was 20% contained.