Brushfires Pop Up Across LA As Unusually Strong, Dry Winds Pummel Region

Helicopters dropped water on the fast moving Equestrian Fire in Castaic, CA on June 8, 2020. (Courtesy L.A. County Fire Department via Twitter)

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Ten brush fires have broken out across Los Angeles County over the past day as strong, dry winds reaching up to 65 mph ripped through the region, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The fires were mostly contained to a few acres, popping up in Elysian Park, Eagle Rock, El Sereno, Lake View Terrace, and the Sepulveda Basin, among other spots.

A fast-moving fire in Castaic — driven by some of the strongest winds in the area — was by far the largest, burning 86 acres. Firefighters had it 70% contained by midday Monday.

It's unclear how any of the fires started, but since lightning wasn't the culprit, we can assume human activity, like powerlines, fireworks or car fires.

SHOULD I FREAK OUT?

I mean, sure, why not? Add it to the list.

Anytime there are strong and dry winds lacerating SoCal from now until this November (hopefully the start of the rainy season), know that some sort of fast-moving fire is possible. It's why we have — and you should pay attention to — red flag warnings.

That said, the timing of this hot, high wind event is exceptional, according to the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

"Typically we're talking about June Gloom. Cool conditions along the coast," said Eric Boldt, meteorologist with the NWS. "This is an unusual weather system. We usually don't see this strong of winds and the Santa Anas like we're seeing today."

Those don't usually come around until fall, when they drive the biggest fires of the year.

The current winds should die down by Tuesday.


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MOISTURE MATTERS

When fires do pop up, expect to see mostly brush burning, for now. Grasses and shrubs that grew quickly during our rainy season were also the first bits of vegetation to dry out because of the hotter-than-average weather over the past month.

The bigger fuels that feed the larger wildfires are still moist because of late season rains. Those'll likely reach critical levels of dryness sometime around late August or September, depending on how hot our summer is. Soon thereafter we'll be smack in the middle of Santa Ana season. And. Well. You know how that goes.

PLEASE GET READY

Who should be freaking out? Those who live in the wildland-urban interface who still haven't gotten their defensible space ready.

Now's the time to get it together.