Jon Baird

Red Flag Warning of High Risk Wildfire in Effect

October 19, 2018 - 4:51 pm

LOS ANGELES (CNS/KNX 1070) -  A red flag warning signifying a high risk of wildfire is in effect until 10 tonight in LA and Orange counties due to strong Santa Ana winds and low humidity.

Wind gusts of between 30 and 45 miles per hour are expected in LA County amid low humidity. Forecasters say an elevated fire danger will exist tomorrow, but below critical conditions associated with a red flag warning.

It's been a gusty way of life across Southern California this week.

There were a couple of small fires in the Los Angeles area overnight, but firefighters quickly knocked them down.

The threat of wildfire will return to the Southland Friday because of strong winds and very dry vegetation, but with far less severity than the area experienced earlier this week.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning of extreme fire danger that will be in effect until 10 p.m. Friday tonight.

The red flag warning will be in effect for the Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Area, Los Angeles County mountains, Angeles National Forest, Santa Clarita and San Gabriel valleys, San Fernando Valley and the metro Los Angeles and coastal areas.

Humidity levels are expected to increase over the weekend, leading to "elevated" fire conditions on Saturday, but not up to red flag levels.

KNX reporter Jon Baird:

There have been power outages across Southern California earlier this week, thanks to the powerful and gusty Santa Ana winds.

Earlier Tuesday morning, utility crews were working today to restore electricity to about 3,700 customers in Los Angeles and Orange counties whose power was knocked out by gusty Santa Ana winds.

As of about daybreak Tuesday, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was reporting that about 500 customers were without electricity in Sherman Oaks, with a handful of others in various other parts of the city. The figure is down from a high of about 8,900 on Monday.

Southern California Edison reported that 2,978 customers in Los Angeles County and 200 customers in Orange County were without power, down from a high of more than 53,000 customers in both counties on Monday.

Most of the outages were attributed to the gusty winds. But as the winds continue, customers in some areas might have their power cut voluntarily.

Utility companies such as Edison monitor conditions during extreme fire conditions and can cut power in select areas to reduce fire danger from damaged electrical lines.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Los Angeles County, some schools were closed Tuesday morning. KNX Craig Fiegener reports Aldatena Elementary School was closed.

In Orange County, a woman was killed Monday when a eucalyptus tree fell onto her car as she was pulling out of a carport in Tustin amid gusty Santa Ana winds.

Firefighters were called at 9:15 a.m. to an apartment complex at 14421 Red Hill Ave., said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Tony Bommarito.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene, marking the first casualty resulting from the high winds buffeting the Southern California region.

The section of tree that fell also brought some power lines with it. A neighbor told KCAL9 he tried to reach the woman in the car, but it was too late.

"I saw the car crushed," Danny McCabe told the station. "The neighbors said there's somebody in there. I ripped off the branches and asked, `Hello ma'am, can you hear me?' I checked for a pulse in her wrist. I checked for a pulse in her throat and I couldn't feel any. There (were) live wires behind the car, and there's nothing I could do."

Southern California Edison was called regarding downed power lines at the location, he said, noting that wires were "down all over Tustin and Santa Ana" due to the winds.

The name of the woman, reported to be 34 years old, was withheld pending notification of her family.

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