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FIRE CREWS NOW ON STANDBY DRY WINDS BRING ALERT TO VALLEY.

Byline: Bhavna Mistry Staff Writer

SANTA CLARITA - Additional firefighters were assigned Tuesday to the Santa Clarita Valley where dry warm winds prompted an extreme fire danger warning.

Five extra Los Angeles County Fire Department engines were on standby at Station 73 as warm temperatures and Santa Ana wind conditions mixed with dry brittle brush to produce potentially dangerous fire conditions.

``It's unseasonably warm,'' Battalion Chief Michael Singer said. ``On top of that it's unseasonably dry. We have an increased fire danger.''

In addition to the extra manpower, firefighting aircraft were primed for action.

``This is the heart of the problem,'' Singer said of the Santa Clarita Valley. ``And on a day like today, everybody is ready.''

Also in preparation for potential fires, local fire stations canceled any drills or community events scheduled Tuesday. They ate early lunches and waited on standby.

``We're focused on readiness,'' Singer said. ``Sometimes, we don't know when the next lunch will be.''

The extreme fire warning is the highest rating issued by the Fire Department and means the fire danger is at its highest. In addition, the department issued a red flag warning.

``We are in a red flag warning, meaning that there is a 90 percent chance of a fire hazard,'' Inspector Mike Brown said.

The National Weather Service said that temperatures in Newhall reached a high of 74 degrees Tuesday and winds were recorded at up to 30 mph. A wind advisory was issued through 2 p.m. today. Forecasters predicted similar weather today.

``Tomorrow will be the warmest day, and it will cool down the rest of the week a few degrees a day,'' said Ray Tanabe, a forecaster with the National Weather Service. ``It will be the peak of the mild Santa Ana event.''

In addition to the county's strike team stationed in the Santa Clarita Valley, the California Department of Forestry also had a strike team on standby in the fire-prone Malibu area.

``Our job is that if a fire starts to keep it small,'' Singer said.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 20, 2002
Words:337
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