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UPDATE: SCV firefighters prep for worst day yet

Posted: May 14, 2014 7:38 p.m.
Updated: May 14, 2014 7:38 p.m.

Los Angeles County fire officials upped firefighter staffing countywide and extended a fire danger warning into Thursday, preparing for the crescendo of the current Southern California heat wave.

High temperatures were due to hit 102 in the Santa Clarita Valley and the 100s or higher in other inland valleys Thursday.

In the San Gabriel Valley, temperatures forecast to hit as much as 108 degrees Thursday prompted Santa Anita officials to cancel racing there.

“You also have Santa Ana winds gusting to 45 (miles per hour) at times and very dry air,” Stuart Seto of the National Weather Service said Wednesday. “And we’re looking at humidity in the single digits, which is very low, very dry, and temperatures in the hot spots reaching 100 degrees.”

The dangerous combination of high temperatures, high winds, dry air and native foliage dried out by the ongoing statewide drought touched off wildfires at several locations in Southern California, especially in San Diego County.

A strike force specifically assigned to the Santa Clarita Valley Tuesday was dismantled Wednesday as fire officials focused their attention on other hot spots, including one in Santa Barbara Tuesday night, said Fire Department Inspector Scott Miller.

“They did not determine that (the SCV strike force) staffing was needed for today,” Miller said Wednesday.

But fire officials added a fourth firefighter to “three-man teams” due to the heightened fire danger, Miller said.

“We also have extra patrols in Santa Clarita, Malibu and San Gabriel,” he said.

In all, an additional 100 firefighters were assigned throughout Los Angeles County Wednesday, said Fire Department Inspector Anthony Akins.

High temperatures in the Santa Clarita Valley reached 93 degrees Wednesday, according to a National Weather Service weather station in Saugus. The relative humidity stood at 5 percent or less during the afternoon hours.

The heat wave is expected to ease off after Thursday, with temperatures hitting 81 degrees by Sunday.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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