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Stay alert and remain up-to-date on fire alerts in your area.

Residents are asked to use extreme caution with fire sources such as power tools and cigarettes due to Santa Ana winds expected to sweep through San Diego County mountains and inland valleys Thursday and Friday. The arrival of the fall’s first Santa Ana is a reminder that it is peak fire season, and the region’s dry brush and grasses could potentially ignite a dangerous wildfire and threaten communities.

The National Weather Service issued a Fire Weather Watch from 3 a.m. Thursday through 8 p.m. Friday adding that northeast to east winds will gust from 35 to 60 mph.  Meteorologists also expect humidity will be critically low.

Fire season is year-round in San Diego County, but CAL FIRE and San Diego County Fire officials said there is an increased risk in the fall months when most of the brush and grasses are dried out and strong Santa Ana winds are blowing.

Here are some dos and don’ts to prevent a wildfire. Some of these recommendations may seem obvious but they continue to be common causes of fires.

  • Do not attempt to use power tools to clear away brush during periods of high fire danger. It could spark on a rock and start a fire.
  • Never pull your vehicle over in grass or brush because it can start a fire. Pull over on paved roads when necessary.
  • Never discard smoking materials out a window or toss a lit cigarette butt into an area of vegetation.
  • Use spark arrestors on portable gasoline powered equipment to avoid an accidental fire.

Below are some things you can do instead to try to reduce the fire risk.

  • Remove debris, including dried leaves around the house, on the roof and in gutters, firewood stacks, or trash from around the home.
  • Trim away any tree branches that overhang on your home and cut low branches on trees.
  • Dried out bushes or plants should also be pruned or removed.
  • All tree or shrub clippings need to be cleaned up and disposed of in a bin.

Emergency officials recommend that all residents register for AlertSanDiego, the County’s cell phone notification service. You’ll receive emergency messages that apply to your neighborhood on your phone in a local disaster.

Download the SD Emergency app from the Google Play store or the Apple App store. In a regional emergency, such as a wildfire, updates and other information will be posted at sdcountyemergency.com and then sent out on the app. The app also includes disaster planning templates and interactive checklists.

Complete a family disaster plan template from the SD Emergency app or from ReadySanDiego.org to help your family plan for an emergency.

Check with your child’s school or daycare to ask about their School Protection and Evacuation Plan to help you plan.

Build or replenish a disaster supplies kit for your home, work and vehicle. This should include water, non-perishable food, a first aid kit and other essentials if you have to survive on your own for a minimum of three days.

Stay alert for local news and official updates from emergency officials.

– County News Service

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