Ponderosa fire in Manton, California.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Fire officials say the thousands of firefighters making progress against a series of wildfires across California are facing new challenges as strong winds raise concerns that some of the fires could jump containment lines.
"What's really disconcerting to us is the last couple of weeks we haven't seen very strong winds. It has really been the dry conditions that have fueled these fires,"said Cal Fire's Daniel Berlant.
The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for Sunday across a wide area of Northern California, with forecasters predicting wind gusts up to 35 miles per hour in some of the fire zones.
This comes as weary crews have spend weeks on the fire line. In recent days, with more fires surrounded or out, Cal Fire has been trying to get them some rest.
"We're trying to give them as much as rest as possible, but with the increased activity that's obviously a challenge," Berlant said.
The stronger winds come after firefighters improved containment lines during the past few days around the Ponderosa Fire, which is burning about 25 miles southeast of Redding.
The blaze, sparked by a lightning strike on Aug. 18, was 74 percent contained after scorching more than 43 square miles.
A second major fire in the region, this one burning in the Plumas National Forest since July 29, has expanded to more than 104 square miles.
Berlant emphasized people need to be extra cautious outdoors, especially with work that could cause a spark.
"On a windy day like today we don't want people going out and using lawn mowers or weedeaters to cut down dry grass," he said.
The next two months could bring the worst fire season in several years.
"Every ten years of so we see fire seiges, where we see large and damaging fires that are all over the place, all at one time. The last one was 2008," Berlant said.
In the last 10 years there have already been 3 years considered "fire-siege" years.