Dangerously dry conditions, rare January red flag warnings, and the breezing in of the legendary Santa Ana winds is proving to be a recipe for disaster in California, as raging wildfires spread across the state’s southern region.
Fanning the Flames
The Santa Ana winds that fanned a campfire into a wildfire that destroyed five homes and threatened several neighborhoods east of Los Angeles died down a bit Thursday afternoon, January 16, halting the blaze in its tracks. The police held three men in custody for allegedly starting the blaze.
The wildfire swept through 1,700 acres of bush and land in the San Gabriel Mountains early in the day but by nightfall, it was no longer advancing and was 30 percent contained.
“The weather cooperated quite a bit today. We didn’t get the wind … that we thought,” said Los Angeles County fire Deputy Chief John Tripp.
Red Flags along Sierra Nevada
Red flag warnings for critical fire weather conditions were posted from Santa Barbara County south through Los Angeles to the U.S.-Mexico border, along the spine of the Sierra Nevada, and in areas east and north of San Francisco Bay.
“Following the driest year on record, 2014 is kicking off as what may be the driest January on record in many locations in California,” said Jon Erdman, a senior meteorologist weather.com.
Residents were advised to be alert and report any sightings of wildfires.