Residents across Southern California have been evacuated as record-breaking heat spark wildfires throughout Santa Barabara and San Diego County. According to the Los Angeles Times, moderate winds in the area have fanned the flames of at least a dozen fires, the worst being in Alpine and Goleta. Though there has been progress in containing those fires, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Capt. Kendal Bortisser says that “there is still a lot of work to be done.”
The New York Post reports that some of the West Fire has destroyed over 400 acres in San Diego County, as temperatures hold at 108 degrees. In Santa Barabara, the high winds helped to spread the Holiday Fire. Already, several homes have been lost with over 100 more in danger of destruction. Firefighters are still fighting the blazes that threaten Southern California.
When asked about the impact of the high winds and even higher temperatures, Alpine Fire Protectant District Chief Bill Paskle said:
“There are homes that are perfectly untouched, and others that are burned to the ground.”
But the wildfires aren’t the only worry that Southern Californians have. Temperatures have soared well over 100 degrees in much of the area, with Woodland Hills (San Fernando Valley) reaching 117 degrees, shattering a record temp of 106 that was set in 1976. According to the Los Angeles Times, this was “just four degrees shy of the hottest temperature ever recorded in Los Angeles County: 119 degrees on July 22, 2006. That also happened to be in Woodland Hills.”
Other areas greatly affected by the high temps include Burbank, Van Nuys, Oxnard, Long Beach, and the usually temperate San Diego, which set a record of 93 degrees. Previously, the high had been 84 degrees, a record once set in 1936.
According to meteorologist Todd Hall, the record-breaking heat wave is caused by “a strong high-pressure system combined with offshore winds blowing from the desert to the ocean.”
Since Southern California usually enjoys moderate weather for most of the year, most homes in the area don’t have air conditioning, making the heat even more unbearable. The triple-digit temperatures are expected to last all weekend, and areas along the coast are projected to reach highs in the 90s.
Currently, there is a red flag warning in effect through the end of today, as the dry heat threatens to spark more fires in “at-risk areas in the foothills and the mountains.”
Officials urge residents to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and wear sunscreen if they go outside.