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Heat wave raises Southern California fire risk, officials warn

October 12, 2011 |  9:40 am

State forest firefighters will be on alert for brush fires in coming days as temperatures rise and strong winds prevail in Southern California.

The Inland Empire already was experiencing high winds and rising temperatures early Wednesday, said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, commonly known as CalFire.

Winds were picking up Wednesday “to allow for the possibility of a mild Santa Ana event,” Berlant said. “This puts us back into the peak of fire season down in Southern California.”

After rain earlier this month, forecasts call for temperatures in the 90s Wednesday and Thursday, and in the high 80s and low 90s Friday.

Berlant said all the department’s stations remained open and about 2,000 seasonal firefighters it added this summer to augment its permanent firefighting force have been kept on the job.

“Historically, it’s actually October when we see the largest and most damaging forest fires,” Berlant said. “People still need to be just as cautious as they were in summertime. It doesn’t take much for a fire to grow out of control.”


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