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Winter heat wave breaks records, raises fire danger

Firefighters knocked down a 2.6-acre brush fire that briefly prompted early morning evacuations in Malibu early Monday, amid a winter heat wave that has brought increased fire danger.
Firefighters knocked down a 2.6-acre brush fire that briefly prompted early morning evacuations in Malibu early Monday, amid a winter heat wave that has brought increased fire danger.
ANGNews via NBC4

A winter heat wave has broken records in Southern California as strong winds bring increased fire danger to the region.

Long Beach Airport saw a high of 89 degrees Sunday, breaking the previous record of 88 set in 1976, according to the Associated Press.

In Newport Beach, the high was 85 degrees, beating a record set in 1984. Some communities even set records for unusually warm overnight low temperatures, according to Miguel Miller with the National Weather Service. Newport had an overnight low of 59 degrees and Santa Ana saw a low of 69. Riverside broke a record set in 1940 with a low of 62 degrees.

Temperatures Monday were expected to be nearly as high. A Red Flag Warning was in effect, signifying a high risk of wildfire due to high temperatures and low humidity.

To prepare, the Los Angeles County Fire Department has increased staffing, including five extra brush patrols, five water tenders and a full strike team, according to county fire specialist Randall Wright.

"That strike team will be moved throughout the county as the weather changes and shifts to be pre-deployed, so that when a brush fire does come out, we have that augmented extra staffing to prevent those small fires from becoming those larger fires that we've seen during these Santa Ana events," Wright said.

Over the weekend, winds were blowing at around 60 miles per hour in Malibu, and about 40 miles in Sylmar and Granada Hills.

A brush fire broke out early Monday in Malibu, briefly prompting evacuations for about 10 homes. The Los Angeles Fire Department hit hard, with more than 200 firefighters on scene, with 15 engines and helicopters on hand to assist, according to LAFD Capt. Brian Jordan.

The fire was knocked down within 30 minutes, though fire personnel remained on scene to mop up and douse the entire 2.6-acre burn area amid fears of a wind-driven flare-up.

The Red Flag warning expires in most areas at 3 p.m. Monday, but extra staffing is expected to remain in place through about 8 p.m.

Temperatures are expected to drop again later this week.