SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — They’re called Santa Ana winds and they usually mean trouble in Southern California.
The winds, which surge from the east and south, bring hot and dry weather creating a fire-friendly environment for wildfires.
Right now, there are a few burning in San Diego County, but just south of the border, at least 24 have been reported according to Tijuana’s Secretary of Public Safety and Protection.
The smoke from fires in Mexico is being carried north of the border and some neighborhoods in San Diego are being choked by the pollution.
“It’s not a pretty site,” said Bill Brick, chief of the San Diego County Air Pollution Control Board. “We’re trying to document the air quality that people are breathing and also documenting how much air quality has improved.”
Brick said some areas are doing better than others.
Otay Mesa, in South San Diego right along the border, is one of the areas seeing heavy smoke with “moderate” air quality.
“If you smell the smoke you don’t want to be out jogging or doing heavy exertion,” said Brick, who recommends people remain indoors if they can smell the smoke, usually an indication the air quality is not ideal.
“If you smell it, it’s got really high concentrations,” he said.
Brick is optimistic the conditions are improving as the weekend approaches.
“We’re already starting to see winds turn that will bring more humidity to the fires and the help them control it.”
According to fire officials south of the border, one fire in Tijuana forced the evacuation of 350 residents. Another destroyed several homes and businesses. And thousands of acres, mostly brush, have been scorched by the fires.
There are also reports two soldiers from the Mexican Army were killed as they tried to put out one of the fires.