Wildfire warning in effect through Sunday

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Firefighters FlamesSAN DIEGO — A red flag warning signaling a heightened risk of wildfire will be in force Friday in San Diego-area valley and mountain areas due to warm, windy and extremely dry conditions, meteorologists said.

The warning will be in effect from 8 a.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Sunday because of a “critical” combustion risk resulting from strong Santa Ana winds out of the northeast coupled with humidity levels dipping below 15 percent and possibly into the single digits, according to the  National Weather Service.

By this evening and into Saturday morning, sustained winds of 20 to 30 miles per hour with peak gusts of 55 to 70 mph will sweep canyons and foothill valley areas downwind of Cuyamaca Lake and Hellhole Canyon in Valley Center, the NWS said in an advisory.

A red flag warning is the most serious fire-related caution issued by the NWS.

The agency also issued a separate high wind warning, effective from 8 this morning until noon Sunday, for the valleys and mountains. A high wind warning means a hazardous high wind event capable of causing property damage is expected or occurring.

The strongest winds will be during the late night into early morning hours each day through Sunday, an NWS advisory said.

Area firefighting agencies have reported plans to be on high alert while the dicey weather prevails.

“By this time of year, conditions in many areas are at their driest of the season,” Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott said in a statement. “When you add in strong winds, it makes this time of year a perfect recipe for wildfires. Even though it is fall, we need the public to understand that we are still in fire season throughout much of California and everyone must take extra precautions to avoid sparking a wildfire.”

A cold low pressure system from the northwest could provide a significant shift in the weather early next week. According to the NWS, the system could bring rain and mountain snow to the region Wednesday or Thursday.

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