Santa Ana winds, scorching temperatures fuel wildfire concerns

SAN DIEGO -- Unseasonably hot weather, dry conditions and Santa Ana winds will continue to raise the risk of wildfires in San Diego County Monday, but cooler conditions and increased moisture are right around the corner.

With a prolonged period of hot, dry Santa Ana winds forecast, San Diego Fire Chief Brian Fennessy has ordered increased staffing through Wednesday.

Five additional brush engine companies will be on duty at strategic locations across the city. Both Fire-Rescue helicopters are being staffed and additional pilots, mechanics and fuel truck operators are being recalled to assure firefighting flight operations are available for 24 hours a day.

“Emergency callback of all firefighters and increased staffing of additional engines is highly likely if local fire weather conditions worsen or fire activity in the region is significant,” Chief Fennessy said. “The rain this week decreased the fire danger slightly, but with the high winds, temperatures and low relative humidity that is being forecast, the already drought-stricken vegetation will dry out quickly.”

Chief Fennessy has also told all mission-critical support staff to be ready to be called back at a moment’s notice, and the San Diego Urban Area All-Hazard Incident Management Team members have been placed on alert.

A National Weather Service red flag warning for the mountains and inland valleys, where critical fire weather conditions are forecast, is set to expire at 3 p.m. Monday. A wind advisory for the mountains and valleys warning of northeast winds of 20 to 30 miles per hours and gusts that could reach 50 mph near the foothills and 60 mph in the mountains will end two hours later.

Peak wind gusts recorded in the mountains on Sunday ranged from 35 miles per hour in Warner Springs to 65 mph in Descanso. Gusts in the inland valleys topped out at 45 mph in Julian, and 36-mph winds whipped through In-Ko-Pah in the desert.

Click here for the FOX 5 forecast.

Record high temperatures were set Sunday in Chula Vista and El Cajon, and Monday will be hot again, forecasters said. A heat advisory for the coast and the valleys will expire at 8 p.m.

High temperatures prompted the Coronado Unified School District to decide to cut classes short Monday and let students out at 12:30 p.m. Many of the island's classrooms are not air-conditioned.

High temperatures this afternoon are expected to range from 89 to 94 degrees along the coast, 91 to 96 inland and near the foothills, around 99 in the western valleys, 89 to 94 near the foothills, 79 to 88 in the mountains and around 96 in the deserts.

Another hot day ahead and people were out just trying to make the best of it.

“It’s actually just 10 degrees cooler in this area because of the water, it’s nice.” Said cool seeker, Michelle Vila.

Many east county families hit Santee Lakes hoping to beat the heat with a little water park therapy.

“I looked in the forecast and and it was going to be 110 degrees or something like that and I was like we have to do something,” said mom, Kaylaa Collins.

Kaylaa collins and her son trevor are prepared…knowing the heat could cause issues.

“We’re both covered in sunscreen, he’s got his shirt for later on when he’s not in the water so,” said Collins.

Everyone FOX 5 spoke to at the park were staying hydrated, using sunscreen, wearing hats and even bringing umbrellas to prevent any heat-related health issues.

Including Randy Pogue.

“I hydrate before I leave the house, and then I take a bottle of water with me,” said walker, Randy Pogue.

Despite the soaring temperatures, Randy Pogue decided it would be a good idea to go on a 3-mile walk around Santee lakes.

“Well right now it’s warm, but there’s enough breeze that it’s keeping you cooled down, so I can lift my hat up a bit, where I’m sweating on my forehead and I can get air to cool me down, so it’s not bad at all…feels like about 90 instead of 97, 98,” said Pogue.

"If you have outdoor plans be prepared for the heat," according to the weather service. "With this event impacting coastal areas, don't forget to check up on the elderly or heat sensitive people, especially if they don't have AC."

However, temperatures are expected to begin heading back toward normal Tuesday.

"Upper level low pressure over the Baja Peninsula will bring increasing moisture and slow cooling beginning Tuesday as it drifts northward bringing with clouds, and a small chance for sprinkles or scattered, light showers at times," according to the weather service.