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.
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.
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.
CNN’s Andy Rose contributed to this report.