Public Safety

Get Ready for Critical Fire Weather

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Forecasters have issued a fire weather watch for San Diego County inland valleys and mountains from this weekend through Tuesday, and the watch has a strong potential of developing into a red flag warning. The County Office of Emergency Services recommends you take steps now to lessen the fire risk around your home and be prepared to evacuate if a fire does break out.

The National Weather Service issued the watch due to low humidity, heat and strong gusty offshore winds predicted of up to 50 mph Sunday through Tuesday. During critical fire weather, residents can take preventive steps such as creating defensible space to protect their home in the event of a wildfire.

But just before or once winds get hot and dry, don’t clear with a mower or weed cutter because they can accidentally spark a fire.

Here are some things residents can do instead:

  • Remove debris, including dried leaves, firewood stacks, or trash from around the home. This includes leaves on their roof and in gutters.
  • Trim away any tree branches that overhang on your home and cut low branches on trees.
  • Dried out bushes or plants should also be pruned or removed.
  • All tree or shrub clippings need to be cleaned up and disposed of in a bin.

When the National Weather Service issues a fire weather watch or red flag warning, it means residents need to be alert to dangerous fire conditions. But what does it mean for the County and fire agencies like CAL FIRE?

A red flag warning triggers a heightened state of awareness and readiness for the first responder community and County staff, said Stephen Rea, assistant director of the County Office of Emergency Services. Residents are encouraged to do the same.

“Here in San Diego County, fire season is year-round” Rea said. “To maintain your family’s preparedness in the event of a wildfire, it’s important to maintain a minimum of 100 feet of defensible space around your home. Review and update your family disaster plan. And restock your home emergency kits as needed.”

Both the County and CAL FIRE monitor the NWS forecasts and scan for weather conditions that could pose a risk for the public such as dry, offshore winds, also known as Santa Ana winds, or lightning or heavy rainfall.

The weather service posts a fire weather watch first to indicate a potential for hot, dry and windy conditions. If a fire were sparked under these weather conditions, it would be difficult to control.

Fire agencies and government agencies pay close attention to a fire weather watch. The alert may mean they need to increase fire equipment and crews. A red flag warning prompts CAL FIRE to increase staffing in the summer months or during peak fire season in the fall.

The Office of Emergency Services is also monitoring weather conditions on a 24-hour basis.

Additionally, residents should be alert and that means staying informed.

Remember to register for AlertSanDiego or ListoSanDiego, the County’s cell phone notification service. By doing that, you will receive any emergency messages that apply to your neighborhood on your cell phone. To find more information about safeguarding your home from wildfires and general disaster preparation, visit ReadySanDiego.org.

Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact