SoCal Weather: Thousands Without Power As High Winds Fuel Potential Forest Fire Threat For 17 Million People


The National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings for parts of several counties, including San Diego, Los Angeles and Ventura, collectively affecting more than 17 million people through Friday afternoon.

Winds of up to 74 mph swept through Los Angeles’ Pacoima neighborhood on Thursday, the agency said.

“The critical fire time zone encompasses over 3 million people from Thursday night to Friday morning, and that number drops to over 1 million mostly for Los Angeles and Ventura counties on Friday,” said CNN meteorologist Rob Shackelford. The high threat could remain in the region until Sunday, he said.

Red flag warnings are issued when an area experiences ideal conditions for starting and spreading fires, which can occur when winds are strong, humidity is low and temperatures are warm, the NWS explained.

“If a fire does break out, the conditions will be favorable for rapid fire spread, long distance spots and extreme fire behavior which would endanger life and property” NWS said.
Nearly 70,000 homes and businesses lost power on Thanksgiving Day, Southern California Edison said. As of Friday morning, there were still over 66,000 SCE customers without power, according to poweroutage.us.

The utility, which serves 5 million customers, said it had cut off electricity because high winds tend to increase the risk of downed power lines and wildfires starting. Most of the cuts were in Riverside County, east of Los Angeles.

“I’d rather have excess wind and less electricity than having my house burned down at home,” said Carl Pride, a Fontana resident. KABC, subsidiary of CNN. “A minor inconvenience is nothing compared to the loss of my house,” he said, trying to grab his hat as the strong wind blew it off.
In addition, nearly 6,000 San Diego Power & Electric customers were without power, according to poweroutage.us. Overall, more than 76,000 customers were without power in the area as of early Friday, according to the website.
In North Hollywood, strong winds knocked a tree off the roof of a house, slightly injuring a resident, KABC reported. Downed trees in parts of Orange County also caused damage, the branch reported.

CalFire said in a Facebook post that it prepared ahead of Thanksgiving for the risk of wildfires, with increased resources “strategically in parts of southern California in anticipation of critical weather conditions for the fires.”

The state’s wildfire season has been devastating so far this year with 8,367 fires burning over 3 million acres, according to CalFire. The fires have been exacerbated by climate change, creating warmer and drier conditions.

Thursday, the crews quickly Lopez Fire when it was just half an acre in Los Angeles and small brush fires.

CNN’s Andy Rose contributed to this report.





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