Southern Calif. at critical risk for wildfires amid extreme heat, winds

Parts of California will be at an enhanced risk of wildfire ignition this week amid record-breaking heat and gusty winds, meteorologists said.

The greatest risk will be in southern parts of the state where temperatures are forecast to hit dangerous triple-digit levels on Monday and Tuesday, meteorologists said.

The heat, coupled with gusty winds, will create "the most dangerous fire weather conditions seen in the past few years," according to the National Weather Service. Wind gusts could top between 50 mph in some areas on Tuesday.

"The combination of strong, gusty Santa Ana winds, unseasonably hot and very dry conditions will bring an extended period of critical fire weather conditions across much of southern California," ABC News Meteorologist Daniel Peck said Sunday. "The concern is that things could go from good to very bad, very quickly in southern CA this time around."

An Excessive Heat Warning is in effect for much of southwestern California, including San Diego to Los Angeles through Tuesday, where temperatures will be running upwards of 20 degrees above average for this time of the year, meteorologists said.

Decades-old daily record highs, some dating back to the early 1900s, are expected to be broken in many SoCal cities on Monday and Tuesday. Long Branch, located about 30 minutes south of Los Angeles, could see temperatures as high as 104 degrees on Monday, which would break a 52-year-old daily record high.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles could hit a high of 102 degrees on Tuesday, which would top the daily temperature record of 99 degrees reached in 1909.

After battling some of the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in the state's history in recent weeks, The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL Fire) said it would increase its staffing levels with additional firefighters, fire engines, fire crews, and aircraft to respond to any new wildfires.

"This is traditionally the time of year when we see these strong Santa Ana winds," said Chief Ken Pimlott, director of CAL FIRE said in a statement. "And with an increased risk for wildfires, our firefighters are ready."

"Firefighters from other states, as well as Australia, are here and ready to help in case a new wildfire ignites," he added.

Nearly 6,000 firefighters continued to battle 10 large wildfires burning across the Golden State on Sunday. At the peak, there were 21 major wildfires that together charred more than 245,000 acres of land in recent weeks.

The fires destroyed more than 8,400 homes and buildings and have been blamed for the deaths of 42 people. All of the remaining fires were more than halfway contained as of early Monday, authorities said.

The National Weather service has issued several Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches across Southern California due to gusty winds, low humidity and high temperatures. There will be a slight improvement with the heat on Wednesday, with notable relief expected between Thursday and Friday, meteorologists said.
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