LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The risk of wildfires remained high again Tuesday with most of the Southland under red flag warnings because of gusty Santa Ana winds which have forced precautionary power shutoffs to tens of thousands of Southern California Edison customers.
“The power’s been off three times since Thanksgiving,” said Gail Studebaker, who lives in Rancho Cucamonga. “Our kids are going to school online right now.”READ MORE: Driver Wanted After Hitting, Then Dropping Pedestrian From Car During LAPD Car Chase
Red flag warnings were in effect through 10 p.m. Tuesday for much of Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange counties, and the Inland Empire, due to winds of up to 70 miles per hour and low humidity levels which will make for ripe wildfire conditions.
“SoCal Edison has to understand that this is during the pandemic, buying extra food and working from home,” said neighbor, Sunny Naidu.
Early Tuesday, 59,658 SoCal Edison customers were without electricity due to the precautionary power shutoffs, including nearly 12,000 in L.A. County, over 22,800 in Ventura County and 19,600 in Riverside County. The shutoff are to prevent wildfires in the event the winds down trees or power lines. The shutoffs have mainly been in the foothill and mountain areas.
“Sometimes we go days without power, so it’s very frustrating,” said one woman who lives in the Inland Empire.
Another 146,682 customers remain at risk of seeing their power shut off. Click here to check if your address is in the shutoff area.
Residents in Simi Valley said they were becoming fatigued with the repeated power outages. Alayna Martino has three kids, two of whom are doing remote learning.
“Also, my dad is in hospice here at my home,” she said. “So that has been a challenge to say the least.”
This marks the third such Santa Ana wind event in just the past three weeks. No rain is expected for at least the next 10 days, the NWS said. It was also the third time in three weeks that Martino’s power has been shut off.READ MORE: Newsom, Calif. Lawmakers Reach Deal To Reopen Schools By End Of March
“To have thousands of individuals in this town without power for over 24 hours, on an every other week basis sometimes, it’s unreal,” she said.
SCE spokesperson Reggie Kumar said residents should remain calm, as these power shutoffs will hopefully not last much longer.
“As frustrating as these public safety power shutoffs are, this is not how it will always be,” he said.
On Monday, crews were able to halt the forward progress of a 173-acre brush fire which erupted in Santa Paula. No structures were damaged.
On the night of Dec. 2, Santa Ana winds helped spread a wildfire which broke out in Silverado Canyon area east of Irvine. The 7,300-acre Bond Fire, which started as a house fire before spreading into nearby brush, has destroyed at least 31 structures and damaged another 21 more. It also forced thousands of people to flee.
As of Tuesday, it was 70% contained. All evacuation orders have been lifted.
Beginning in August and lasting through October, there were several heat waves in California which sparked rolling blackouts for the first time since 2001, and helped contribute to the spread of a historic number of wildfires up and down the state which destroyed thousands of homes and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate.
SCE notified California state regulators that its equipment may have been to blame for sparking the Silverado Fire, which broke out east of Irvine in late October , burning 13,400 acres and forcing more than 90,000 to evacuate their homes.
Also in October, Ventura County fire investigators reported that the Easy and Maria fires, which broke out in October of 2019, were both caused by electrical equipment failures. In the Easy Fire, SCE equipment was to blame, officials said.
In November of 2019, while the Easy and Maria fires were still burning, SCE reached a $360 million settlement admitting that its equipment was also responsible for starting the 2017 Thomas Fire and the 2018 Woolsey Fire.MORE NEWS: LAUSD Opens COVID Vaccine Site At SoFI Stadium Monday For Education Staff Only
Residents might have to go without power again as another round of Santa Ana winds is expected this week.