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UPDATED: Temperatures to soar through weekend

Triple-digit heat, low humidity, dry brush keep firefighters on alert

Posted: August 25, 2009 8:20 p.m.
Updated: August 25, 2009 9:54 p.m.
As temperatures climb to triple digits through the weekend, local fire stations will keep staff ramped up in preparation for any major flareups.

"We are inching toward fire season, that's for sure," said Luke Claus, assistant fire chief for the Santa Clarita Valley and surrounding areas. "The temperatures are expected to go up this week. It is very dry and drying out."

Firefighters doused a small blaze flared up in Canyon Country, but the big wildfire danger will come with the Santa Ana winds in the coming months, Claus said.

SCV residents will feel temperatures in the upper 90s today and even higher through the weekend, breaking the recent spell of temperatures in the mid- to upper-80s.

"(Temperatures) have been, generally speaking, below seasonal norms for at least a week or so," said weather specialist Bonnie Bartling of the National Weather Service.

Thursday's high is expected to hit 102 degrees and Friday could reach more than 104.

"Thursday and Friday will be the warmest," Bartling said.

Highs will slightly decrease to 101 on Saturday and upper 90s on Sunday, with lows staying between the upper- to mid-60s, she said. High temperatures will be paired with very low humidity, she said.

County firefighters responded to a small grass fire Tuesday morning off Tick Canyon Road near Soledad Canyon Road, Claus said.

The fire, sparked by a vehicle fire that spread to surrounding brush, was put out quickly, he said.

"As far as big fires go, we'll probably have to wait to get some wind," Claus said. "But the brush is certainly ready."

Still, local fire stations are operating under an augmented fire staffing program, Claus said.

"It puts additional firefighters on engines and some of the outlying areas' staff on a second smaller fire engine," Claus said. "It staffs the water tenders because we don't always have good hydrants where brush fires burn."

In addition to augmented staffing, the county fire department has a type one helicopter, which can carry 1,000 gallons of water, on contract.

At the beginning of August, additional battalion chiefs were placed in the Santa Clarita Valley - a move that's been needed for some time, Claus said.

"We used to have 14 stations and one battalion chief; now we have 15 stations and two battalion chiefs on every day," Claus said.


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