LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – More than 170,000 Southern California Edison customers could see power shutoffs through Christmas Eve due to strong Santa Ana winds which have created ripe wildfire conditions across the Southland.
A red flag warning is in effect from 8 a.m. Wednesday through noon Thursday for most of Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange counties, as well as the Inland Empire.
Winds could reach up to 60 miles per hour by Wednesday night. This coupled with dry conditions and low humidity levels will create an increased risk for wildfires that could down trees and power lines.
In response, SCE reports that it could be forced to implement precautionary public safety shutoffs. The utility provider has already carried out several such power shutoffs over the past few months due to Santa Ana conditions.
As of Wednesday morning, 52,004 SCE customers in Ventura County are at risk of seeing their power shut off sometime Wednesday or Thursday, along with 31,664 in L.A. County, 41,152 in Riverside County and 27,570 in San Bernardino County.
Cities affected include Simi Valley, Santa Clarita, Rancho Cucamonga, Corona and Hemet. To find out if your city is in the effected area, click here.
“Gusty Santa Ana winds are expected to increase rapidly across Los Angeles and Ventura counties early Wednesday morning, then peak in strength Wednesday afternoon into Wednesday night when wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph are expected across wind favored
areas,” the National Weather Service said in a statement.
This marks the fourth such Santa Ana wind event since since late October.
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, destroyed at least 31 structures and damaged another 21 more. It forced thousands of people to flee.
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.
Residents might have to go without power again as another round of Santa Ana winds is expected this week.