LOS ANGELES (CSLA) – Nearly 290,000 Southern California Edison customers across the Southland could see their power shut off Monday or Tuesday in an attempt to prevent powerful Santa Ana winds from sparking wildfires.
Fire crews from as far away as Idaho, Sacramento, and New Mexico were in Southern California Monday night in case there is a wind-driven wildfire.READ MORE: OC Receives More Than 83,000 COVID-19 Vaccine Doses In Single Day
The National Weather Service reports that a powerful Santa Ana wind event expected to begin Monday night and last through Tuesday night could bring wind gusts of up to 80 miles per hour.
Cities including Simi Valley, Thousands Oaks, Santa Clarita, Rancho Cucamonga and Riverside are at risk of seeing precautionary power shutoffs due to the risk that powerful winds could down trees and power lines, sparking wildfires.
As of 10 p.m. Monday, SCE reported that 288,775 customers were at risk of seeing power shutoffs at some point within the next 48 hours. That includes 131,696 customers in Ventura County, 77,647 in Los Angeles County and 11,586 in Riverside County.
There were 48 customers in L.A. and Ventura counties whose power had already been shut off.
“There will be an increased risk of fire ignitions due to downed trees and powerlines, along with a threat of rapid fire spread and extreme fire behavior,” the NWS said in a statement.
A red flag warning is in effect for much of the Southland beginning at 10 p.m. Monday and lasting through 10 p.m. Tuesday.READ MORE: Stretch Of 5 Freeway In Norwalk Area To Close During Construction
SCE has already carried out several such power shutoffs over the past several months, with this marking at least the sixth major Santa Ana wind event 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.MORE NEWS: People Making A Difference: Nonprofit Connects Artists With Those In Need