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Officials Issue Fire Warning

November 20, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

Hot, whipping Santa Ana winds have sucked moisture from the air and dried out brush, prompting officials Tuesday to mobilize against fire danger in Southern California.

The National Weather Service has issued a "red flag" warning until 2 p.m. today, when the winds are expected to abate.

"If you have a fire that starts in these conditions, it's going to spread very quickly," said Tom Rolinski of the weather service.

On Monday, winds of more than 25 mph blew through the region, and humidity in most places was less than 15%, Rolinski said.

In the Angeles National Forest, officials posted extra patrols to watch for fires. The forest was closed to the public for much of the fall because of extreme fire danger. It reopened a few weeks ago after 3 to 4 inches of rain drenched the area.

"The Santa Ana winds have put us back into a dangerous fire situation," said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Robert Brady. "All that dead and down fuel has dried back out to tinder conditions."

The forest will remain open, Brady said, but officials are asking the public to follow rules such as not lighting campfires.

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