A fire danger sign
A fire danger sign with the iconic Smokey Bear. Image courtesy Centers for Disease Control

San Diego County will remain under a red flag warning through Wednesday, with the National Weather Service forecasting Santa Ana wind gusts approaching 80 miles per hour along with low humidity.

The weather service issued a red flag warning for the county mountains, valleys and coastal areas that was originally set to last until 5 p.m. Tuesday but has been extended to 5 p.m. Wednesday. A high wind warning was also issued for the mountains and valleys that remains in effect until 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Winds blowing east to northeast were expected between 30 to 40 mph in most of the region with gusts of 80 mph possible near the ridge tops of the county mountains, according to the weather service. Sill Hill, just west of Cuyamaca Peak, recorded gusts as high as 86 mph Monday.

Humidity levels will drop to around 5 percent with poor recovery overnight.

High temperatures Tuesday will be 75 to 80 degrees near the coast and inland, 75 to 80 degrees in the western valleys, 65 to 70 near the foothills and 53 to 62 in the mountains.

Vegetation is very dry and fires will grow rapidly, burn intensely and be difficult to control upon ignition, according to the Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index.

As of 8 p.m. Monday, San Diego Gas & Electric had shut off power to around 10,600 customers in the Boulevard, Descanso, Campo, Julian, Ramona, Buckman Springs, Lake Wohlford, Pine Valley and Santa Ysabel areas as a safety precaution because of the high winds and low humidity.

The San Diego County Office of Education announced that the Jamul-Dulzura Union School District, Julian Union School District, Julian Union High School District, Mountain Empire Unified School District and Spencer Valley School District will be closed Tuesday because of the public safety power shutoff.

The outages could last until the red flag warning expires Wednesday afternoon and four resource centers were opened Monday for residents affected by the outages.

Residents can get water and snacks, charge their phones and get updated information on outages at the resources center located at:

  • Mountain Empire High School Gymnasium, 3305 Buckman Springs Road, Campo
  • Potrero Resource Center, 24550 Highway 94, Potrero
  • Camp Oliver Lodge, 8761 Riverside Drive, Descanso
  • Golden Acorn Casino & Travel Center, 1800 Golden Acorn Way, Campo

Two more resources centers are set to open at 8 a.m. Tuesday at:

  • Whispering Winds Catholic Camp, 17606 Harrison Park Road, Julian
  • Dulzura Community Center, 1136 Community Building Road, Dulzura

With the heightened fire danger, authorities recommended that residents avoid outdoor burning, using lawn mowers or power tools outside and have emergency preparedness kits in order.

In Los Angeles and Ventura counties, a wind-driven wildfire has scorched 93,700 acres and was 30 percent contained as of Tuesday morning. The Woolsey fire, which broke out Thursday afternoon, 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, has 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, weather service forecasters said.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.