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AP

Thanksgiving brings strong winds, power shutoffs and fire danger to Southern California

  • Updated

LOS ANGELES — Southern California was buffeted by gusty Santa Ana winds on Thanksgiving Day, creating fire danger and causing tens of thousands to lose power.

Wind gusts topped 70 mph overnight Wednesday in some mountain and hillside areas, causing some downed trees.

The forecast

A red flag warning went into effect at 10 a.m. Wednesday for much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. It will last through 6 p.m. Friday, as gusty northeast winds and bone-dry air bring the potential for critical fire weather in the region, according to the National Weather Service.

On Thursday afternoon, authorities in San Diego County issued an evacuation warning for some residents in the City of Santee as firefighters battled a brush fire. John W. Minto, mayor of Santee, said it appeared the Magnolia fire scorched 18 acres but the forward progression was stopped and structures were no longer in peril.

A small brush fire in Sylmar that broke out near Lopez Canyon Landfill was quickly knocked down.

Officials predict relative humidity will plummet as low as 2% to 8% by Thursday and Friday, along with "very poor overnight recoveries, especially in mountain areas," according to the warning. Winds are expected to weaken by Friday, but the low humidity and occasional strong gusts will keep fire danger high through the afternoon, according to the warning.

Temperatures in coastal and valley areas are expected to hover in the mid-70s through Thanksgiving before warming slightly on Friday and into the weekend, said Ryan Kittell, a meteorologist with the weather service's Oxnard station.

Beaches might see the warm temperatures on Thursday, he said. "That's usually the case with Santa Anas," Kittell said, explaining that the air warms as it drops in elevation.

Power out

Southern California Edison said customers could be affected by public safety power shutoffs to reduce the danger of fire from utility lines knocked down by winds.

As of Thursday morning, power was shut off to nearly 64,000 Edison customers. Another 156,000 customers also could face shutoffs.

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(The San Diego Union-Tribune contributed to this report.)

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