Fire Danger Elevated in Southern California

February 9, 2016

Southern California is in for another day of increased fire danger as gusty Santa Ana winds and unseasonably warm temperatures bring down humidity levels.

The National Weather Service issued red flag warnings for large swaths of Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

A high wind warning is in place for the San Gabriel and Santa Monica mountains, where gusts topping 58 mph are possible.

The winds are being kicked up by a strengthening high pressure system that could produce record-breaking heat. Forecasters say temperatures in the 80s are possible in some areas through Tuesday.

Ventura County crews quickly contained a wind-fanned brush fire that briefly threatened homes Sunday near the Spanish Hills Country Club in Camarillo. No damage or injuries were reported.

Meanwhile, money from a fire prevention fee paid by some California residents will be used to remove dead or dying trees.

The Fresno Bee reports that Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant says several counties are facing high fire risks from trees dying from drought and bark beetle infestation. He says there were 29 million dead or dying trees in the Sierra last year.

The counties received $1.75 million from the State Responsibility Area fee charged to foothill and mountain residents.

About 37,700 home and business owners pay into the fire prevention fee. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers’ Association filed a class-action lawsuit against the state arguing that the fee was actually an illegal tax.

Berlant says the fee is critical to keep the Sierra safe from catastrophic fires.

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