No major wildfires were burning early in the day but a combination of hot sunshine, low humidity and blustery winds added up to conditions in which a small fire could become large and dangerous quickly.
"By this time of year, conditions in many areas are at their driest of the season," Chief Ken Pimlott, director of CAL FIRE, said in a statement. "When you add in strong winds, it makes this time of year a perfect recipe for wildfires."
The CAL FIRE alert covered much of the state, including the Sacramento and San Francisco Bay areas.
Extra fire crews were deployed Friday to areas where the fire risk was considered particularly high. They were able to pounce on a handful of small fires that broke out in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties.
The Los Angeles Times said air tankers and helicopters were brought in quickly Friday afternoon to fend off fires burning near residential areas.
"Our helicopter did an outstanding job keeping the fire away from houses," said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi. "It saved property."