Fierce Santa Ana winds blew across the Southland Thursday amid very low humidity, raising fears of wildfires and prompting Southern California Edison to begin precautionary power shutoffs affecting thousands of customers in Los Angeles County and other areas.
By late afternoon, the number of Southern California Edison customers experiencing precautionary power shutoffs due to the high winds has grown to about 12,900, affecting areas of Los Angeles, Ventura, Kern and San Bernardino counties. The latest list of affected Los Angeles County communities includes Palmdale and unincorporated areas of Agua Dulce, Acton, Boiling Point, White Heather, Fern Ann Falls, Twin Lakes, Deer Lake Highlands, Chatsworth Lake Manor and Santa Susana Knolls.
At 3 a.m., a red flag warning issued by the National Weather Service and denoting critical fire weather conditions went into effect in the Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Area, the San Gabriel Mountains, the Angeles National Forest, the San Fernando, San Gabriel and Santa Clarita valleys and the Los Angeles area, including the coast, metropolitan L.A., downtown L.A. and the Hollywood Hills, along with much of Ventura County.
The red flag warning is scheduled to remain in effect until 6 p.m. Friday.
A brush fire that broke out Thursday near Interstate 10 in Calimesa destroyed multiple mobile homes and threatened others, charring more than 200 acres in 90 minutes.
The blaze was reported at 1:58 p.m. at Sandalwood Drive and Seventh Street, near the I-10 exit ramp, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
The wind-driven flames spread into the Sandalwood Mobile Home Park, initially destroying at least five residences but quickly spreading to an unknown number of others.
It was unclear if the homes were occupied. No injuries were reported.
Evacuations were ordered for the remaining residences, as well as nearby Mesa View Middle School, officials said. An ambulance was called to the school, but it was not immediately known whether the emergency was related to the fire or something else.
In the mountains, northeast winds blew at sustained speeds of 25-45 mph, gusting at 75 mph, according to the NWS. In the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys, northeast winds blew at speeds of 20-35 mph, along with 55-mph gusts. And in Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley, northeast winds of 20-30 mph were reported, along with 50-mph gusts.
In Chatsworth, power lines fell in the area of Devonshire Street between Topanga Canyon Boulevard and De Soto Avenue, prompting street closures. It was unclear how many customers may have lost power due to the downed lines. No injuries were reported.
At 8 a.m. in the city of Los Angeles, Red Flag parking restrictions mandated by the Los Angeles Fire Department went into effect for 24 hours “or until further notice” in areas of the city that have been posted as being within the “Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones.”
The program is designed to remove parked vehicles from areas such as those with very narrow roads, hairpin turns, tight curves and key intersections that, if not cleared of vehicles, would create a “choke point” for emergency vehicles, according to the LAFD.
The strongest winds were expected late Thursday and again Friday morning amid humidity levels of 3-10% and very dry vegetation providing an abundance of potential wildfire fuel, the NWS reported, adding it may be necessary to extend the red flag warning into Saturday.
“If fire ignition occurs, conditions will be favorable for extreme fire behavior, which would threaten life and property,” the NWS warned.
Also in force until 6 p.m. Friday is a red flag warning in inland Orange County, including the Santa Ana mountains, with forecasters warning of east-to-northeast winds of 20 to 35 mph, gusting to 50 mph, with isolated 70-mph gusts in mountain areas.