San Bernardino County

Strong Winds Fan Brush Fire Embers in Fontana Neighborhood

High wind warnings are in effect for most of Southern California.

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A fire fanned by strong winds spread from brush to a junk yard and residential properties in Fontana.

There were no reports of injuries in the fire that broke out around midnight in the western San Bernardino County community. Powerful winds spread embers from the brush to a junk yard and residential properties several blocks away.

Details about how the fire started were not immediately available.

"Any fuel, grasses that died out over the summer, they're not able to take in any moisture," said San Bernardino County Fire Department Engineer Eric Sherwin. "So, it's still a very receptive fuel bed. These fuels will dry out immediately under the influence of this wind."

Embers can travel for miles in windy conditions, creating spot fires ahead of the main wildfire.

Wind gusts reached 55 mph, according to firefighters at the scene.

High wind warnings went into effect for San Bernardino and Riverside county valleys, inland Orange County and Ventura county beaches. Part of Los Angeles County is under a red flag warning.

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Winds are expected to peak Wednesday morning before slowly decreasing during the afternoon.

Fuel moisture levels are well below historic averages in parts of Southern California, meaning vegetation is drying out more quickly this year. Dry vegetation is one significant factor in the spread of wildfires.

The state is coming of one of its driest late winters on record, leaving hillsides covered in dry brush. California continues to face longer wildfire seasons as a direct result of climate change, according to CAL FIRE. Scientists say climate change has made the West warmer and drier over the last three decades and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.

California has seen its largest, most destructive and deadliest wildfires in the last five years. In 2018, a massive blaze in the Sierra Nevada foothills destroyed much of the city of Paradise and killed 85 people, the most deaths from a U.S. wildfire in a century.

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