Red flag warning issued for San Diego County

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SAN DIEGO – A red flag warning has been issued for the inland valley and mountain areas of San Diego County starting Friday morning until Saturday afternoon, officials said.

High pressure will generate strong gusty winds through and below mountains passes and canyons in San Diego County Thursday night, posing an increased risk of wildfire starting Friday at 2 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.

The agency issued a high wind warning for mountain areas and a less-severe wind advisory for the foothills from 8 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Saturday. During that time, there will be east winds of 25 to 35 miles per hour, gusting up to 46 mph, forecasters said.

CALFIRE is already preparing the Southern California region in case of emergency.

“We’re bringing in extra equipment, extra personnel and extra aircraft,” said Battalion Chief Ray Chaney. “We’re mobilizing and surging, if you will, a large amount of resources from the Central and Northern part of the state into southern California in anticipation of this wind event.”

CALFIRE is urging residents to always be prepared in case of evacuation.

That’s a lesson Ramona residents Terri Hein and Paul Torres said they learned the hard way several years ago during a wildfire.

“The whole town of Ramona got evacuated,” said Torres. “They had to turn the water off so they could fight the fire.”

Hein and Torres were evacuated and weren’t ready. Now they said they keep a suitcase packed in case of emergency.

“We had to learn the hard way,” said Hein. She said she would urge others to be prepared. “Most important thing. Get a bag with just your essentials ready to go.”

Despite recent rainfall, Chaney said the fire danger is still high in the region.

“How much moisture is in the brush itself is still critically low,” said Chaney. “So with this weather and the drought conditions we’ve been experiencing it’s conducive for some extreme fire behavior, if we have a fire.”

Crews are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

“We will provide the offense aggressively for a wildfire,” said Chaney. “But we need you as the homeowner to provide the defense.”

Chaney said that defense means being careful and using common sense. Don’t mow your lawn and be careful with cigarettes or anything that could ignite a fire.