The National Weather Service forecast for strong sundowner winds and hot, dry fire weather through the weekend has prompted the Santa Barbara County Fire Department to increase staffing from now through 8 a.m. Monday.

County Fire spokesman Capt. Daniel Bertucelli said as a result of the critical fire weather, the department obtained approval from Cal Fire for the staffing increase.

County Fire provides fire protection services to state responsibility areas of the county under contract with Cal Fire.

Crew 1-1 and Dozers 1 and 2 will be on duty 24 hours a day through the weekend.

Crew 1-2 and Water Tender 18 with two crew members both came on duty at noon Friday.

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Bertucelli said one crew and one bulldozer were staged Friday afternoon near Station 18 at Mariposa Reina in Gaviota.

With wildland areas at higher risk of fire because of the weather conditions, fire officials are asking the public to be extremely cautious with potential sources of ignition — gasoline-powered tools and equipment, off-road vehicles, campfires and tobacco and cannabis smoking products.

In Los Padres National Forest, discharging firearms is prohibited, campfires, charcoal fires and smoking are only allowed in designated areas, vehicles are allowed only on roads and designated trails and all fireworks are banned.

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County Reporter/Associate Editor

Lee Central Coast Newspapers associate editor Mike Hodgson covers Santa Barbara County government and events and issues in Santa Ynez Valley. Follow him on Twitter @MHodgsonSYVNews.