Parts of southern California are back on a wildfire Red Flag warning for the next two days, as what officials are calling the most critical fire weather conditions since at least October 2019 are forecast.
Cal Fire is calling for a moderate to strong Santa Ana Wind event affecting the Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange and Riverside areas of southern California, beginning yesterday (Sunday) and running through to Tuesday.
In addition, an additional Red Flag Warning has been raised through Tuesday night for the Southern Sierra, Kern County Mountains, Inyo, and the Mojave Desert.
Santa Ana wind events are characterised by strong, extremely dry downslope winds that originate inland and affect coastal Southern California and northern Baja California, particularly in hot and dry autumn conditions.
The California and west coast United States wildfire season in 2020 has already caused insurance and reinsurance market losses and we are now approaching what would typically be considered the peak of the wildfire season.
This time around there is particular concern in the Berkeley hills area of California, where the fire service has warned residents to be ready for potential evacuations.
They say to expect “very dangerous fire conditions” through Tuesday, asking residents of the area to “stay on heightened alert.”
The concern has been high enough that fire officials called on residents to consider leaving their homes before Sunday, in Berkeley hills.
Across the entire state of California, hundreds of thousands are without power as electrical utilities including PG&E shut power off to prevent their power infrastructure from causing fresh wildfires igniting.
Across California so far in 2020 some 4 million acres have been burned by wildfires, resulting in more than 9,250 homes, commercial buildings and other structures being destroyed.
This current Santa Ana wind event is set to hold some of the most dangerous wildfire weather since last year, perhaps since 2018, according to meteorologists, heightening the chances of blazes igniting that drive more costs through to insurance and perhaps reinsurance entities.
Insurance and reinsurance market losses from western U.S. wildfires, across California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington states are already estimated as high as $8 billion in 2020.
Update: As expected, new wildfires broke out on Monday and as of Tuesday morning local time one fire in particular is threatening many properties.
The Silverado fire is threatening the city of Irvine in Southern California, with almost 100,000 people evacuated and the fire having quickly burned 11,000 acres. At 5% contained and with winds remaining strong through Tuesday morning, the danger has not passed for properties in the area.
At this stage no structures have been reported as burned, but should the Silverado fire continue its run towards Irvine a dangerous and damaging situation could emerge.
Electrical utility Southern California Edison has reported that its equipment may have been partly responsible for this blaze, as it told California officials Monday evening that a lashing wire may have contacted its overhead primary conductor and sparked the fire.