Los Angeles County temperatures reached a record-breaking 104 degrees on Monday. L.A. residents should prepare for sustained heat and dry winds over the next two to three days, according to a National Weather Service alert.
The National Weather Service, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and L.A. County emergency response services released statements about rising temperatures and high-speed winds over the weekend.
"If a fire ignites, there is a potential for a very rapid spread of wildfires," said Bonnie Bartling, a National Weather Service weather specialist. "That's the concern. Obviously, the high heat, especially overnight the temperatures will stay warmer than normal and the humidity will stay down."
Bartling is a weather specialist, or hydro-meteorological technician, for San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and L.A. counties. She said temperatures will be between 95 and 105 degrees over the next few days in the coasts and valleys of Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
The National Weather Service posted three hazardous weather condition warnings for L.A. County. The combination of unusually high temperatures for this time of year, dead or dry vegetation and strong Santa Ana winds make for a higher probability of fire.
"We are a department of over 3,000 members. We always keep our citizens safe and adequately staffed for any potential dangers," said David Ortiz, Los Angeles Fire Department's public information officer. "We have three shifts so one third of the department is always on duty but we will hire additional firefighters if necessary to make sure that the potential hazards are addressed. We're always at the ready."
Ortiz said the fire department currently has increased resources to be deployed out, in case of a fire through its 114 fire stations.
CAL FIRE continues to push for proactive preparedness by increasing state, federal and local fire resources, plus additional military aircraft. Thirty-nine of L.A.'s 88 cities are listed on "Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones," or the most hilly, mountainous and windy areas, which CAL FIRE has made recommendations for hazard and building codes.
Firefighters from other states and as far as Australia are in California to aid local fire response teams, according to a CAL FIRE press release.
The National Weather Service and LAFD stress the severity of the wind and excessive heat advisories to keep the public informed and make decisions to stay safe.
"They should be cautious," Bartling said. "Drink plenty of liquid, seek shelter and cooler environments if possible – particularly the people on the coasts who don't usually have air conditioning. They're probably going to get hotter than they're used to [getting]," Bartling said.
LAFD paramedics suggest avoiding alcohol or caffeine and encourage drinking water before becoming thirsty. Children, elderly and those with medical conditions are at a greater risk for heat exhaustion or heat stroke.