Southern California firefighters being tested by record heat and windy conditions

On Saturday there is a slight chance of isolated dry lightning strikes across the eastern San Gabriel Mountains during Red Flag Warning conditions

forest service district office fire

Above: Photo taken from the back yard of the USFS District Office in Alpine, CA during the West Fire July 6, 2018. USFS photo.

(Originally published at 9:20 a.m. PDT July 7, 2018)

The predictions for record heat in Southern California were accurate Friday as high temperatures soared into the triple digits. In downtown Los Angeles the old record for the date was broken by 10:15 a.m. when it hit the previous mark set in 1992 of 94 degrees. By the end of the day it was 108. The temperature at UCLA reached 111 degrees, the hottest temperature ever recorded there.

Other record-setting daily temperatures Friday in Southern California:

  • 117 – Van Nuys Airport
  • 114 – Burbank Airport
  • 115 – Ramona
  • 118 – Riverside

Firefighters were challenged by not only the heat but dry winds as fires broke out in several areas.

As the temperature reached 109 degrees, U.S. Forest Service firefighters on the Cleveland National Forest found themselves in a structure defense mode at their District Office in Alpine, with the West Fire adjacent to the building’s back yard and the rest of the 400-acre blaze across the street. Live footage shot by a local TV station showed numerous structures were destroyed.

forest service district office fire
Photo taken from the front yard of the USFS District Office in Alpine, CA during the West Fire. USFS photo.

On the Santa Barbara coast sundowner winds pushed the Holiday Fire through the hills above Goleta, burning 10 to 20 homes according to fire authorities. Even into the night temperatures at the fire scene remained above 100 degrees.

holiday fire goleta
At the Holiday Fire, Santa Barbara County Fire Department firefighters apply water at a home off Fairview Avenue in Goleta. SBFD photo.

The Valley Fire that started Friday has burned at least 1,000 acres near Highway 38 on the San Bernardino National Forest. At last report it was headed into the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area. Mandatory evacuation are in effect for the Forest Falls Community east of the highway. Southern California Incident Management Team 2 will be assuming command.

Much of Southern California is again under a Red Flag Warning Saturday as the huge high pressure dome lingers over the area, bringing more of the same very high temperatures, 2 to 8 percent relative humidities, and gusty winds.

And just to make the situation more interesting, there is a slight chance of isolated dry lightning strikes across the eastern San Gabriel Mountains along with thunderstorm-driven winds.

map Red Flag Warnings, July 7, 2018
Red Flag Warnings, July 7, 2018.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

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