The National Weather Service issued red-flag warnings for parts of multiple counties, including San Diego, Los Angeles and Ventura — collectively affecting more than 17 million people as of Friday afternoon.
Winds of up to 74 miles per hour swept the Pacoima neighborhood in Los Angeles on Thursday, the agency said.
“The critical weather area includes more than 3 million people from Thursday through Friday morning, and that number drops to more than one million in mainly Los Angeles and Ventura counties on Friday,” said CNN meteorologist Rob Shackleford. He said the growing threat could persist in the region into Sunday.
Red flag warnings are issued when an area experiences optimal and expanding fire conditions, which may occur when winds are strong, humidity is low and temperatures are warm, the NWS explained.
The facility, which serves 5 million customers, said it cuts electricity because high winds tend to increase the risk of power lines falling and starting wildfires. Most of the cuts were in Riverside County, which is east of Los Angeles.
CalFire said in a Facebook post that it prepared ahead of Thanksgiving for the danger of wildfires, with resources “strategically increasing throughout Southern California in preparation for critical fire weather.”
According to CalFire, the state’s wildfire season has been devastating so far this year, with 8,367 fires burning more than 3 million acres. The fires have been exacerbated by climate change, resulting in hotter and drier conditions.
CNN’s Andy Rose contributed to this report.