(Bloomberg) -- A wildfire raging north of Los Angeles has sent smoke billowing south and forced more than 1,000 people to evacuate — and with dry winds raking the hills, the blaze is poised to intensify. 

A red flag fire warning has been raised in the area around the Post Fire, which is forecast to be whipped with winds reaching at least 20 miles (32 kilometers) per hour, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, commonly called Cal Fire. The flames, which have burned more than 14,000 acres (5,700 hectares), are only about 8% contained and the smoke has prompted air quality alerts in parts of Los Angeles County and Ventura County.

“Crews are working to establish perimeter fire lines around the fire’s edges,” Cal Fire said in a report. “Aircraft are being utilized to halt the fire’s forward progress but are facing challenges due to limited visibility.”

Along with the Post Fire, crews are battling 10 other blazes throughout the state that flared up over the weekend in an ominous start to wildfire season. While California had heavy snow and rain this past winter, that doesn’t mean a respite from fires. The moisture that kept drought away allowed for grasses and brush to grow, meaning more wildfire fuel as California enters its driest months.

After May, the grasses begin to die and dry out, leaving the hillsides stocked with “light, flashy fuel” that can easily catch fire and cause blazes to spread rapidly, said Isaac Sanchez, Cal Fire’s deputy chief for communications.

Dry grasses being ignited are “how every single major vegetation fire starts,” Sanchez said by telephone. “It leads to catastrophic fire growth in normal conditions.”

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--With assistance from Mark Chediak.

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