Thanksgiving brings strong winds, power shut-offs and fire danger

Gusty winds kick up smoke as a Riverside firefighter douses hot spots at the Arlanza fire off Valley Drive in Riverside.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Southern California was buffeted by gusty Santa Ana winds on Thanksgiving Day, heightening fire danger and leaving tens of thousands without power but causing little damage.

Wind gusts topped 80 mph overnight Wednesday in some mountain and hillside areas, toppling some trees.

In North Hollywood, where winds peaked at 67 mph, a tree fell on a house in the 11200 block of Califa Avenue at 12:51 a.m. Thursday, Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart said. No injuries were reported.


Elsewhere, winds gusted from 50 mph to more than 60 mph in parts of the San Fernando Valley early Thursday, hitting a high of 89 mph in Browns Canyon at 4:20 a.m.

By midday Thursday, the gusts had subsided somewhat to the 30s and 40s through most of the valley and somewhat higher in the surrounding mountains.

A red flag warning went into effect at 10 a.m. Wednesday for much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. It will last through 6 p.m. Friday, as gusty northeast winds and bone-dry air bring the potential for critical fire weather in the region, according to the National Weather Service.

As of Thursday afternoon, Southern California Edison had shut off power to more than 75,000 customers, with an additional 168,000 possibly facing shut-offs.

The utility said the shut-offs were necessary to reduce the danger of fire from utility lines knocked down by winds.

But they threw a wrench into Thanksgiving dinner plans for many.

As the winds subsided Thursday afternoon, Edison crews had begun inspecting the utility’s power lines in preparation for restoring power, spokeswoman Gabriella Ornelas said.


No decision had yet been made about when the power would start to come back on, she said.

On Thursday afternoon, authorities in San Diego County issued an evacuation warning for some residents in the city of Santee as firefighters battled a brush fire.

John W. Minto, mayor of Santee, said it appeared the Magnolia fire scorched 18 acres, but forward progress was stopped and structures were no longer in peril.

A small brush fire in Sylmar that broke out near Lopez Canyon Landfill was quickly knocked down after burning two acres.

Humidity was in the single digits Thursday, the National Weather Service reported, and the dry conditions were expected to continue Friday, according to the warning.

Winds were expected to weaken by Friday, but the low humidity and occasional strong gusts would keep fire danger high through the afternoon, according to the warning.


Temperatures were in the low 70s in coastal areas and the high 70s in the San Fernando Valley areas on Thanksgiving Day and were expected to begin warming slightly on Friday and into the weekend, said Lisa Phillips, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Oxnard station.

The San Diego Union-Tribune contributed to this story.