Thousands of SCE customers at risk of power shutoff as Santa Ana winds, hot weather prompt warning of ‘high fire danger’

A red flag warning is in effect Friday and tens of thousands of households are at risk of having their power temporarily shut off as a combination of Santa Ana winds and high heat spurred concerns about dangerous fire conditions across Southern California.

Those weather conditions have already helped fuel two brush fires that have burned in separate parts of the region in the past 24 hours.

The first blaze, the Erbes Fire in Thousand Oaks, threatened homes and prompted evacuations when it erupted shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday. The fire scorched 250 acres before forward progress was halted and evacuations lifted.

Full containment is expected around mid-day, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.

Another fire, the Bonita Fire, broke out in the San Jacinto Mountains near Idyllwild around 1:15 a.m. Friday. The blaze has charred at least 600 acres and was 5% contained as of 6:35 a.m., when the Riverside County Fire Department last provided an update.

The combination of hot, dry and windy weather has prompted the National Weather Service to warn that the “high fire danger” will last through Saturday.

That has led Southern California Edison to initiate power shutoffs. As of 4:20 p.m., nearly 5,500 customers in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties were without service, according to SCE’s website.

The utility also said it is considering cutting power to customers in those four counties, plus Orange County, in the next 48 hours.

As of 4:20 p.m., SCE estimated about 20,000 customers would be impacted. At one point, more than 100,000 customers were at risk of losing service.

The potential action comes as unseasonably hot temperatures will warm up the area again, with highs ranging from the 70s to the 90s throughout the region, forecasters said.

Several parts of the region saw daily record-highs, including downtown L.A. Los Angeles International Airport, UCLA, Long Beach, Burbank, Camarillo and the weather service’s office in Oxnard.

Southern California will experience another day of strong Santa Ana winds, though the current event is calming down, according to forecasters.

Winds blowing out of the northeast are forecast to reach speeds of 30 to 45 mph, with isolated gusts of 60 mph possible.

In the overnight hours, when winds were stronger, forecasters recorded at least four gusts of 80 mph or above.

Conditions also remain extremely dry, with relative humidity expected to drop to single-digits in parts of the area, according to NWS.

The red flag warning was initially scheduled to expire around 4 p.m. Friday but has been extended by 24 hours.

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