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Santa Ana winds, high temperatures prompt fire warnings

FiresWildfiresDisasters and AccidentsWeather WarningsNational Weather ServiceSouthern California Edison CompanyLos Angeles Fire Department

Southern California is in for a hot and windy week.

The National Weather Service warned of critical fire conditions Sunday and Monday as gusty northeasterly Santa Ana winds hit the region. The agency issued a red flag warning for the mountains and valleys of Los Angeles and Ventura counties through Monday evening due to the winds and low humidity.

Areas including the Santa Monica Mountains, west San Fernando Valley and Santa Clarita Valley can expect wind gusts between 35 and 50 miles per hour Sunday afternoon, said Rich Thompson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

The winds should die down by Sunday evening before picking back up Monday afternoon, Thompson said.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see the red flag warning extended,” he said.

The winds are coming with single-digit humidity and high temperatures. From Tuesday to Thursday, temperatures in the Los Angeles basin could reach the 90s and 100s in the valleys, interior coastal locations and foothills, the National Weather Service said. Record high temperatures are possible.

The Los Angeles Fire Department will have extra firefighters on duty this week, the agency said.

Firefighters battled wind gusts of 15 to 25 miles per hour while fighting a fire at a commercial building in Sunland early Sunday, said Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The fire, reported at 4 a.m., heavily damaged what is believed to be a restaurant at 8660 Foothill Blvd., Humphrey said. It took 53 firefighters half an hour to contain the flames, he said. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Much of Los Angeles is covered with “dry and often volatile brush,” and the department urged people to call the fire department if they see fire.  

“When it comes to wildfires, wind is king, therefore we are asking residents to remain vigilant and use common sense and notify us promptly of any fire or smoke,” Humphrey said.

The conditions already have left many across Southern California without power.

A wind-related power outage in Inglewood left 1,964 Southern California Edison customers without power early Sunday morning, said Paul Netter, a spokesman for Southern California Edison. A tree landed on a power line, knocking out power just after 2 a.m., he said.

By mid-morning Sunday, power had been restored to all but 176 customers, Netter said. There was no estimated time for full power restoration, he said.

Another wind-related outage, caused by a downed power line, affected 406 customers in Barstow early Sunday, Netter said. Power had been restored to all but 43 customers, he said.

Earlier this month, Santa Ana winds and temperatures in the 90s created havoc for hundreds of firefighters battling a wildfire that broke out in the San Bernardino Mountains near Rancho Cucamonga. The blaze, which was sparked by an illegal campfire, charred more than 2,100 acres, the U.S. Forest Service said. 

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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