Fire officials say they expect wind gusts to reach up to 80 mph later this week, and are considering increasing staffing levels in case of a brush fire.




Fire officials are considering boosting staffing as temperatures rise and strong Santa Ana winds are expected to sweep through Orange County on Thursday.

Winds are predicted to top 50 mph, with gusts reaching 80 mph in some areas, said Capt. Marc Stone of the Orange County Fire Authority.

With temperatures in the 80s and brush throughout the county’s wilderness area at critically dry levels, the danger of wildfire is high, officials said.

“We’re going to see identical weather conditions as when the Santiago fire” started, Stone said, referring to the 2007 brush fire that scorched more than 28,000 acres and destroyed 14 homes.

That fire was sparked by an arsonist five years ago, and high winds spread flames rapidly throughout the canyons. Wind gusts reached 80 mph when the fire started Oct. 21, 2007, and quickly outran firefighters.

That fire covered three miles in just 20 minutes and consumed 5,000 acres in two hours.

No decision had been made to increase staffing as of Wednesday afternoon, Stone said, but fire officials are keeping a close eye on conditions.

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures throughout Orange County are expected to reach the mid-80s Thursday. Temperatures in the high 80s are anticipated Friday.

Winds are expected to pick up Thursday evening and continue through Friday.

The National Weather Service also issued a fire-weather watch that’s expected to last from Thursday night through Saturday morning.

Low moisture levels for brush throughout the county have increased concerns, Stone said.

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