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Thousands lose power in Southern California amid fire danger

Posted at 5:09 PM, Nov 26, 2020

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Thousands of people in Southern California lost power Thanksgiving Day after a utility began shutting off electricity to prevent wildfires from being ignited by damage to power lines amid strong winds.

Nearly 5,000 customers in Los Angeles and Ventura counties lost electricity Thursday and more than 100,000 other customers are at risk of losing power, according to Southern Edison.

A red flag warning of extreme fire danger is in effect in a large swath of Southern California, where very dry conditions and Santa Ana winds were expected to last through Saturday.

The Santa Anas will affect the region from northwest of Los Angeles down to the Mexico border, with timing and strength depending on location, according to the National Weather Service.

Santa Ana winds blow from the interior toward the coast, creating potentially critical fire conditions with the combination of vegetation-withering low humidity and powerful gusts, especially below mountain passes and canyons.

Common in the fall but possible at other times, the winds have fanned many catastrophic wildfires.

Southern California Edison’s public safety power shutoff website showed blackouts were under consideration for about 51,000 customers in San Bernardino County, nearly 28,000 in Los Angeles County, more than 11,000 in Ventura County, more than 7,000 in Riverside County, nearly 6,000 in Orange County and about 5,000 in Kern County. The total is about 2.2% of Southern California Edison’s 5 million customers.

California has already experienced a disastrous year of wildfires that have left 31 people dead and some 10,400 structures damaged or destroyed.