Southern California breaking news and trends

Dry lightning, wind predictions prompt critical fire warning through Wednesday

lightning hermosa beach

Photo by Greg Foster via Flickr Creative Commons

A "Red Flag" warning has been issued by the National Weather Service for fire danger across our heatwave hampered region.

Critical fire weather conditions could occur through 5 p.m. Wednesday for the mountains, valleys and deserts of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

According to forecasters, thunderstorms containing little or no rainfall -- but with potential for dry lightning and wind gusts -- could occur as low pressure drops along the California coast.

Meteorologist Stuart Seto told KPCC that dry lightning strikes could fuel wildfires.

"There’s not a lot of precipitation with these storms. So it’s like regular lightning, but the precipitation isn’t there to put out the fires. And also with these thunderstorms, there could be gusty outflow winds. And that’s mainly winds that are coming out of thunderstorms that could enhance some of the fires."

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Highway 18 closed: Hundreds of firefighters jump on fire near Crestline

About 400 firefighters in San Bernardino County are battling a 15-acre fire that erupted Thursday night when a pickup truck plunged off Highway 18 near Crestline and burst into flames.

San Bernardino National Forest spokesman John Miller says the driver escaped with only minor injuries. One firefighter suffered an apparently broken ankle.

No homes are threatened but Highway 18 remains closed.

The blaze is being pushed by 30-mph winds and the National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings for extreme fire conditions in the mountains, valleys and coastal slopes. The warning continues until this evening because of a high-pressure ridge will keep things hot, dry and gusty.

UPDATE 9:28 a.m. Highway 18 is scheduled to re-open at 10 a.m. The number of firefighters there does not necessarily reflect the seriousness of the fire, but concern about the conditions.

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