LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Tens of thousands of Southern California Edison customers were without power Wednesday as strong winds posed the risk of downing power lines that could spark wildfires.
SCE imposed public safety power shutoffs, in which electricity is turned off for customers in wind-prone areas. As of early Wednesday afternoon, over 26,800 SCE customers had their power shut off, while another 36,000 customers were under consideration for shutoffs.
Meanwhile, firefighters battling blazes across the Southland appeared to have gained the upper hand while contending with the strong winds following a day of ferocious Santa Anas that battered mountain and valley areas. Fire crews were working to contain a 43-acre brush fire on the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians reservation near Mecca. The non-injury blaze, which was 50% contained as of Wednesday morning, was reported about 4:40 a.m. Tuesday in the area of Pierce Street and Avenue 73 amid a red flag warning due to high winds and low humidity.
Riverside County Fire Department spokeswoman April Newman said 18 firefighters remained on scene with the goal of fully containing the blaze by the end of the day.
A few fires broke out Tuesday, including one in the Santa Clarita area that blackened 167 acres and a wind-driven brush fire near the westbound 10 Freeway in the San Dimas area that burned about 40 acres. Firefighters appeared to have the upper hand on both blazes Wednesday.
A red flag warning for extreme fire danger expired Tuesday night, but elevated to brief critical fire conditions were still possible Wednesday due to continued strong and gusty offshore winds, according to the National Weather Service.
A wind advisory was in effect until 6 p.m. Wednesday for most of Los Angeles County, and a high wind warning was in effect until 6 p.m. for Orange County coastal areas, and until 10 p.m. for inland Orange County. North to northeast winds of 25 to 40 mph were expected in the San Clarita Valley, with gusts up to 55 mph. Gusts were expected to reach 55 mph in the San Fernando Valley, 50 mph in metro Los Angeles, and 60 mph in the mountains. The winds should become weaker by nightfall, with those number dropping by 15 to 20 mph, the NWS said. On Tuesday, the NWS recorded gusts topping 86 mph in some mountain areas, including Warm Springs and the Magic Mountain Truck Trail in northern Los Angeles County. Other parts of the Santa Clarita Valley were hit with gusts topping 40 and 50 mph, as were select areas of the San Fernando Valley. Winds were also recorded near 50 mph in the Antelope Valley.
The Los Angeles County and city fire departments were prepared up for the wind event, pre-deploying resources in critically endangered areas prior to Tuesday. The Los Angeles Fire Department stationed three task forces in the valleys, while the county fire department ordered “additional staffing and pre-deployment of resources throughout the county.”
Red flag parking restrictions took effect Los Angeles at 8 a.m. The restrictions, which bar residents from parking on streets in high fire hazard zones to ensure fire crews can access hard-to-reach areas, were scheduled to be lifted at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Pasadena imposed similar restrictions at noon, continuing through at least 7 a.m. Wednesday.
Kevin McGowan, director of the county’s Office of Emergency Management, urged residents to be prepared for dangerous conditions.
“Our emergency response officials are world-class and will stand ready to defend lives and property,” he said. “But we need collaboration from all residents who live in L.A. County to stay safe as a region. We must all do our part by staying informed and being ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice, especially if you live in canyon, mountain or foothill communities.”
He urged residents to have an evacuation plan in place and be prepared by taking steps such as parking vehicles facing the street and on driveways — not in garages that may not be accessible if electric garage-door openers become inoperable in an outage.
City News Service contributed to this report.