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Hot weather this week raising concerns about fire danger

High Fire Danger
(Dave Alley/KEYT)

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Unseasonably hot weather in the forecast for this week is raising concerns about increasing fire danger in all parts of the Central Coast.

With temperatures expected to soar over 90 degrees in some areas, firefighters are playing close attention to the weather over the next few days.

"Coming into this week, we've been keeping an eye on the temperatures, the wind and relative humidity," said Adan Orozco, Cal Fire San Luis Obispo County Fire Department public information officer. "In some areas, that humidity could hit as low as five percent, which is critical for us, especially with high temperatures and high winds."

The hot temperatures, high winds and low humidity combined create a worrisome scenario that a dangerous wildfire could soon ignite.

"That's a concern for us," said Orozco. "With the high winds, that wind will blow the heat through the grasses and dry them out really quick. We are experiencing some conditions that we would expect later in the spring, closer to summer. We are experiencing that now in early April."

Some agencies, including Santa Barbara County Fire have listed the official fire danger status as high, indicating that dead fuels will ignite readily and fires will start easily from most causes.

Other agencies, such as the Los Padres National Forest Santa Lucia Ranger Station have listed the fire danger as moderate.

"There are different areas that receive more precipitation than others," explained Orozco. "In those areas, the fuels probably really good moisture to them still, or recovered well, but there are also other areas of our county, that either the understory of really dense brush areas probably didn't recover as well."

The heat waves comes at the same time many departments are ramping up their preparations for the fast approaching summer season.

"We are starting our annual wildland refresher, so our crews are prepared and ready for the wildland fire season, even if it comes a little bit early than anticipated," said San Luis Obispo Fire Department Deputy Chief Michael Alforque.

Other departments are also in the process of upstaffing for the warmer months, which includes hiring additional firefirghers and bringing in additional equipment.

Article Topic Follows: Fire

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Dave Alley

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