A red flag warning is in effect Friday and tens of thousands of households are at risk of having their power temporarily shut off as a combination of Santa Ana winds and high heat spurred concerns about dangerous fire conditions across Southern California.

Those weather conditions have already helped fuel two brush fires that have burned in separate parts of the region in the past 24 hours.

The first blaze, the Erbes Fire in Thousand Oaks, threatened homes and prompted evacuations when it erupted shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday. The fire scorched 250 acres before forward progress was halted and evacuations lifted.

Full containment is expected around mid-day, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.

Another fire, the Bonita Fire, broke out in the San Jacinto Mountains near Idyllwild around 1:15 a.m. Friday. The blaze has charred at least 600 acres and was 5% contained as of 6:35 a.m., when the Riverside County Fire Department last provided an update.

The combination of hot, dry and windy weather has prompted the National Weather Service to warn that the “high fire danger” will last through Saturday.

That has led Southern California Edison to initiate power shutoffs for more than 8,000 customers in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.

The utility also said it is considering cutting power to customers in those four counties, plus Orange County, in the next 48 hours.

An initial estimate stated more than 100,000 customers, but that was updated to about 66,000 as of 12:20 a.m., according to SCE’s website.

The potential action comes as unseasonably hot temperatures will warm up the area again, with highs ranging from the 70s to the 90s throughout the region, forecasters said.

Parts of Southern California could see daily record-highs on Friday, including downtown L.A., Los Angeles International Airport, UCLA and Burbank, according to the weather service. And Lancaster and Long Beach are expected to approach their daily records.

By 10:30 a.m., it had already reached 88 degrees at Camarillo Airport, tying its record for the day that was set back in 1975.

“The all-time record for January is 94 degrees and there is a pretty good shot they might get there,” NWS tweeted.

Southern California will experience another day of strong Santa Ana winds, though the current event is calming down, according to forecasters.

Winds blowing out of the northeast are forecast to reach speeds of 30 to 45 mph, with isolated gusts of 60 mph possible.

In the overnight hours, when winds were stronger, forecasters recorded at least four gusts of 80 mph or above.

Conditions also remain extremely dry, with relative humidity expected to drop to single-digits in parts of the area, according to NWS.

The red flag warning was initially scheduled to expire around 4 p.m. Friday but has been extended by 24 hours.


By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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