By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
This is the first week of Fall, and a Santa Ana wind has fallen right in the forecast this week. It is a good time to check in and see just how well prepared we really are?
We all know fire season is year-round, however Fall typically brings an even elevated fire danger with red flag warnings due to Santa Ana and Diablo winds.
What is a Santa Ana?
According to the California-Nevada Climate Applications Program (CNAP), the Santa Ana is a “dry, sometimes hot and dusty wind in southwestern California that blows westward through the canyons toward the coastal areas.” Santa Ana winds can occur during fall, winter, and spring, but they tend to peak during October through December.
As firefighters, we dread the Santa Ana’s, and no – not just because they mess up the pomp, irritate allergies and bring on dry skin. The winds cause wildfires; Many times, intentional!
The Santa Ana’s have a particularly devastating history of fanning the flames, creating some of the largest and most destructive fires in Southern California. In fact, they are sometimes known as the “devil winds.” Over the past few months we have sent a tremendous number of resources to Northern California; Hopefully they will get some rain this week as we need them back sooner than later.
It is not just a Southern California problem!
Diablos and Sundowners occur in Central and Northern California. When large wildfires strike, many resources and personnel are called on throughout California and even out of state to help. California has one of the most efficient mutual aid systems in the country. However, when multiple fires occur, it stretches our resources. It is important to remind homeowners, that we will do our part, so please be responsible to do your part in preparing your home against wildfires and if asked to evacuate, do so immediately!
Everyone Is Impacted
Regardless of where you live, wildfires impact everyone. Resources can be dispatched from every city/county in the state. Resources get stretched thin. Air quality is impacted, highways get closed, school classes get cancelled, utilities are interrupted, and it cost taxpayers millions of dollars to fight these fires.
It is Not Just Fires That Are the Problem
Santa Ana winds elevate fire danger, but also can cause power outages, bring power lines down, trees topple, street and traffic lights go out, reduces visibility, while causing allergies and eye issues. It is important we educate our communities and ensure everyone is prepared!
Here are some tools to help you prepare your community: https://www.sce.com/outage-center/preparing-for-outages and a map where power outages may be occurring: https://poweroutage.us/area/state/california
Are you ready? Visit http://www.readyforwildfire.org/Prepare-For-Wildfire/