Hot weather, low humidity and Santa Ana winds will combine to elevate fire danger across much of the area later this week, prompting forecasters to issue a red flag warning and causing Southern California Edison to caution some customers that they could lose power.
The National Weather Service originally issued a fire weather watch set to take effect across most of the Southland Wednesday night and continuing until early Friday evening. But on Tuesday, the NWS replaced that watch with a red flag warning, an alert indicating that conditions are ripe for wildfires.
The red flag warning will be in effect from 3 a.m. Thursday to 6 p.m. Friday in the Los Angeles County mountains, Angeles National Forest, Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Area, the coastal area stretching into downtown Los Angeles and the San Fernando, San Gabriel and Santa Clarita valleys. The warning will also cover all of Orange County and most of Ventura County and the Los Padres National Forest.
“A moderate to strong Santa Ana wind event will bring widespread critical fire weather conditions over most of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties early Thursday through late Friday afternoon,” according to the NWS. “Wind gusts between 45 and 70 mph are expected during the Thursday mid-morning to mid-afternoon peak. Minimum humidities in the 3 to 10 percent range will be common. With dry fuel conditions established, critical fire weather conditions are expected.”
Forecasters noted that “if fire ignition occurs, conditions may be favorable for extreme fire behavior, which would threaten life and property.”
The possibility of increased fire conditions prompted Southern California Edison to warn customers about potential “Public Safety Power Shutoffs” aimed at reducing the risk fires. Edison officials noted that the power cuts — which would de-energize lines that might be in danger of being damaged and igniting fires in high-wind conditions — are only “under consideration.” According to the utility, more than 106,000 customers throughout SCE’s service area live in the neighborhoods being considered for potential rolling power cuts.
In Los Angeles County, there are roughly 30,700 customers facing possible cuts, primarily in the northern reaches of the county such as Lancaster, Palmdale, Santa Clarita and areas such as Acton, Agua Dulce, Lake Hughes and Canyon Country. San Fernando is also included in the potentially affected area.
Cal Fire announced that it is increasing staffing over the coming days to be prepared for potential wildfires.
“With some of the most destructive and deadliest fires occurring October through December, we need Californians to not be complacent,” Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter said. “Wind-driven fires move fast, and residents need to be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice in the event of a wildfire. We have increased our staffing, but need the public to remain vigilant. It is important to follow evacuation orders and leave early as fires move very fast under these conditions.”
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