SoCal weather: Thousands without power as fierce winds fuel potential wildfire threat for 17 million people

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.

“If a flare-up occurs, conditions will be favorable for rapid fire spread, long range detection, and severe fire threatening behavior that threatens life and property,” the NWS said.
Addison in Southern California said nearly 70,000 homes and businesses lost electricity on Thanksgiving Day. As of early Friday, more than 66,000 SCE customers were still without power, according to poweroutage.us.

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.

“I’d rather have excess wind and less energy than burn from my house at home,” Fontana resident Carl Pride told CNN affiliate KABC. “Small inconvenience is nothing compared to losing my house,” he said as he grabbed his hat as it was blown by strong winds.
In addition, nearly 6,000 San Diego Power & Electric customers were without electricity, according to poweroutage.us. Overall, more than 76,000 customers were without power in the area early Friday, according to the website.
In North Hollywood, strong winds caused a tree to fall across the roof of a house, causing one resident to suffer minor injuries. The subsidiary said trees that fell in some neighborhoods in Orange County also caused damage.

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.

On Thursday, the crews quickly put down Lopez Fire When it was only half an acre in Los Angeles and small brush fires.

CNN’s Andy Rose contributed to this report.

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