Be Prepared: Fire risk increasing with hot weather - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Be Prepared: Fire risk increasing with hot weather

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) - Firefighters will be on alert this weekend as the weather heats up across San Diego County.

On Friday, crews were called into action in North County as a fire raced dangerously close to homes.

Margaret Rackleff's home in Escondido was saved from destruction in large part because of her tenacity in clearing the brush around her property.

"I could see all the flames and I knew I had to be calm but I was upset. I am called weed lady the Billygoat because I climb these hills and I do all this. I saved my home - that's the most important thing," she said.

Friday's fire in Escondido and another one in Malibu have fire officials saying they could be a sign of an active fire season ahead of us.

"We have a massive grass crop this year. With that increase in grass we are going to have more brush fires," said Captain Isaac Sanchez.

While taking preventative steps like clearing brush is critical, new high-tech ways of fighting wildfires are also being developed.

At a Wildfire Preparedness Summit hosted by SDG&E Friday, the future was on full display.

"Integrating the information from the units in the field, integrating the weather, integrating the modeling. We are in an age of technology where there is more data available," said Brian D'Agostino, SDG&E meteorology.

That trove of data, from wind speeds and humidity levels to temperatures and topographical maps showing brush growth is being used to calculate how a wildfire might behave - delivered through a smartphone app.

D'Agostino said 'we are getting to the point where we are taking all of this information and all this data and integrating it into world-class fire behavior models. They are being built for the first time right here in San Diego."

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