By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Gusting Santa Ana winds and dry conditions returned Wednesday, prompting forecasters to issue a red flag warning of critical wildfire conditions that will last into Friday for much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties and could prompt precautionary power shutoffs for thousands of people.

The red flag warning took effect Wednesday at 10 a.m. and will continue through Friday at 6 p.m. for the Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Area, L.A. County mountains, the Angeles National Forest, the coastal area stretching into downtown Los Angeles, and the Santa Clarita, San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.

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“The power was off multiple times and sometimes for a few days,” said Ken Piper, a Simi Valley resident. “We understood why, we weren’t happy about it.”

The warning was initially scheduled for 10 p.m. Wednesday but was moved up by twelve hours.

“We’re putting our units in strategic areas as far as strike teams so that we are ready to pounce on anything that might ignite as far as brush fires,” said Jonathan Matheny of the LA County Fire Department.

The red flag warning will also be in effect for inland Orange County and the Inland Empire during the same period.

“Northeast winds will increase starting just after sunrise on Wednesday then peak late Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning. Winds will gradually weaken through Saturday but will remain gusty at times,” the NWS said in a statement. “Peak wind gusts between 35 and 55 mph are expected, with isolated gusts to between 60 and 70 mph.”

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Humidity levels are expected to drop Wednesday afternoon, falling as low as 2% to 8% by Thursday.

The lack of humidity creates dry conditions that elevate the risk of dangerous wildfires.

As is typical during major wind events, Southern California Edison officials warned that the utility could impose Public Safety Power Shutoffs, cutting electricity in, particularly wind-prone areas to reduce the risk of wildfires being sparked by wind-damaged electrified power lines.

“I’ve been in this neighborhood since 81 and there have been no fires in this neighborhood due to the power lines coming down,” said Mark Kopitz, a Simi Valley resident.

As of Wednesday morning, 151,639 SCE customers were at risk of seeing power shutoffs, including 45,743 in Riverside County, 35,438 in Ventura County and 33,398 in Los Angeles County.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)