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Southern California back on fire watch as dangerous winds return


Freeway 5 and 14 are closed to traffic through Newhall Pass on Oct. 11 because of Saddle Ridge fire in Newhall, California. Tribune News Service

By Alex Wigglesworth
Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES – Southern California is back on fire watch this weekend amid winds and warm temperatures, with Southern California Edison warning of possible preventive power outages.

A small brush fire broke out Saturday morning in the Hollywood Hills off Stanley Hills Drive but was quickly extinguished by firefighters, who said there were no winds at the time.

The biggest fire threat this weekend is elsewhere. The National Weather Service issued a red-flag warning for the Santa Barbara County's South Coast and mountain regions that remains in effect through Sunday night. The Real fire near Goleta started Thursday and burned 420 acres. It is now 50% contained.

There, so-called sundowner winds were expected to combine with low humidity and dry brush to increase the threat of wildfires. Gusts could reach 70 mph in the hills above Montecito on Saturday night and continue into Sunday morning, according to the weather service. The notorious winds, which are similar to Santa Anas in the south, have fueled a number of devastating fires in the area, including the massive Thomas fire that burned more than 281,000 acres in 2017.

Potentially damaging winds were also forecast for the Los Angeles County mountains, the Santa Clarita Valley and the Santa Monica Mountains, bringing brief periods of critical fire weather. The strongest winds were expected to hit overnight Saturday into Sunday.

Wind gusts could top 50 mph in part of the San Fernando Valley. Highs will get into the 80s.

Edison is considering shutting off power to more than 56,000 customers over the weekend amid warnings from forecasters that strong winds would raise the risk of wildfires.

Edison has already warned customers spread over eight counties that their electricity could be turned off in the coming days.

The largest concentration of customers who could be affected – more than 24,000 – is in Santa Barbara County.

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