As two wildfires continued to burn in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, Riverside County remained under a red flag warning Tuesday, with the National Weather Service forecasting Santa Ana wind gusts approaching 65 miles per hour, along with low humidity.
The red flag warning signifies a high risk of wildfire and covers the Riverside County mountains and valleys along with the San Gorgonio Pass near Banning. The warning was originally set to expire at 5 p.m. Tuesday, but it has been extended to 5 p.m. Wednesday.
The National Weather Service also issued a high wind warning, which indicates sustained wind speeds of 40 miles per hour and gusts of at least 58 mph, for the same areas that remains in effect until 5 p.m. Tuesday.
No advisories were issued for the Coachella Valley.
Along with low humidity levels, the strong Santa Ana winds blowing east to northeast are to blame for the fire danger, with winds of 25 to 35 mph in the forecast and gusts around 65 mph possible below the Banning Pass, according to the NWS.
Humidity levels will drop to around 5 percent Tuesday with poor overnight recovery.
Fuels, meaning the vegetation, are very dry and fires will grow rapidly and be difficult to control upon ignition, according to the Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index.
High temperatures Tuesday were forecast at 71 to 79 degrees near Riverside, 71 degrees in Temecula, 66 to 71 in the San Gorgonio Pass near Banning, 72 in the Coachella Valley and 56 to 65 in Idyllwild.
With the heightened fire danger, authorities recommended that residents avoid outdoor burning and have emergency preparedness kits in order.
“An emergency can happen at any time,” a forecaster said in a statement on the Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index Website. “Clean debris away from your house. Charge your cell phone and make sure you have plenty of gas.”
Firefighters contained a two-alarm fire that ignited in a junk yard in Riverside around 10:20 a.m. Monday. The blaze burned over a hundred junked vehicles at the Allied Auto Salvage, but no structures we threatened before the fire was contained just after noon.
In Los Angeles and Ventura counties, the Woolsey Fire has scorched 93,700 acres since it broke out Thursday and was 30 percent contained as of Tuesday morning. The fire has destroyed at least 435 structures and Cal Fire projected full containment of the blaze won’t come until Thursday.
The much smaller Hill Fire, burning north of Malibu and south of Simi Valley in Ventura County, had scorched 4,500 acres and was 80 percent contained as of Tuesday morning.
The winds are expected to peak Tuesday morning before gradually decreasing into Wednesday, NWS forecasters said.
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