Red Flag Warning for San Diego County expires

Cal Fire has additional staffing in place Saturday

SAN DIEGO - A Red Flag Warning issued by the National Weather Service for San Diego County has expired as of 6 p.m. Saturday.

With windy conditions and low humidity,  fire officials were on high alert for much of the day.

"In the event a fire does start, it has the potential to be a major wildfire," said Cal Fire Capt. Kendal Bortisser.

Steady winds were already blowing from the east to the coast in Oceanside early Saturday morning.

The critical fire danger areas are inland including Alpine, Campo, Descanso, El Cajon, Escondido, Fallbrook, Julian, Potrero, Ramona, Ranchita, Santa Ysabel, Valley Center and Warner Springs.

On Thursday, at least two brush fires burned dozens of acres in the East County. Bortisser admits if a Red Flag Warning had been in place on Thursday, the situation could have been a lot worse.

"We had low temperatures. We just had breezes. We didn't have high winds that day and the way that fire burned was still unbelievable," he said.

Bortisser says a low snow pack in the mountains combined with a lack of rain in Southern California are among the factors that help trigger out-of-control wildfires.

This fall "is shaping up to be one of the most challenging fire seasons in many years," Cal Fire Capt. Mike Mohler said. "High winds can turn a spark into a devastating wildfire in just minutes, so we're calling on San Diegans to be extremely vigilant in the high-fire-risk areas of the county."

With another major weather event just around the corner, fire officials are making sure they have all the resources they need for what could be a long fire season.

"We're anticipating the Santa Ana winds coming in and that drives fires more aggressively, makes them more dangerous, makes them more difficult to control and we're extremely concerned about that," said Bortisser.

He told 10News on Saturday that all Cal Fire stations are at full staffing and that an additional strike team from San Bernardino consisting of 16 members is in San Diego County due to the heightened fire threat.

Bortisser also said crews went into place earlier Saturday for those staffing aircraft and air tankers.

The state has advised the public these tips to help prevent fires by:

-- avoiding the use of mowers or mechanized weed trimmers in dry grass on windy days
-- making campfires only in areas where they are expressly allowed, and extinguishing them completely when leaving
-- avoiding pulling over or parking vehicles in dry grass
-- never burning leaves, branches or other landscape debris on "no-burn days," or when it's windy
-- making sure all portable gas-powered machines have spark arresters

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