A red flag warning denoting a strong risk of wildfire because of strong Santa Ana winds and low humidity remained in effect Wednesday in the Riverside County mountains, the valleys around Riverside and the adjoining foothills.
The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning in the Riverside County mountains and valleys as well as the San Gorgonio Pass near Banning that lasts until 5 p.m. Wednesday.
The fire weather warning did not extend to 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 20 to 30 mph in the forecast and gusts around 50 mph possible below the Banning Pass, according to the NWS.
Humidity levels will drop to around 5 percent Wednesday and remain between 5 and 10 percent into Thursday.
Vegetation is very dry and fires may grow rapidly upon ignition, according to the Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index.
High temperatures Wednesday were forecast at 74 to 81 degrees near Riverside, 75 degrees in Temecula, 70 to 75 in the San Gorgonio Pass near Banning, 76 in the Coachella Valley and 58 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.”
In Los Angeles and Ventura counties, the Woolsey Fire has scorched more than 97,000 acres since it broke out Thursday and was 40 percent contained as of Wednesday morning. The fire has destroyed at least 453 structures and Cal Fire projected full containment of the blaze won’t come until Sunday.
Areas of strong and gusty Santa Ana winds will continue into the afternoon, but the winds are expected to weaken Wednesday evening, NWS forecasters said.