LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nearly 195,000 Southern California utility customers faced the possibility of having their electricity shut off Wednesday to prevent wildfires as Santa Ana winds developed.
Red flag warnings were set to go into effect at late morning and last through much of Friday due to predicted strong gusts and very low relative humidity, the National Weather Service said.
The strongest and potentially damaging gusts were expected from Wednesday night through Thanksgiving morning. Gusts to 75 mph (121 kph) were expected near and below Cajon Pass and near the coastal foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains.
“Fire danger will rapidly escalate during the night,” forecasters said.
Two big utilities were considering public safety power shutoffs in high-risk areas to prevent wildfires from being sparked if the Santa Anas were to damage power equipment or blow debris into power lines.
Southern California Edison said it was considering cutting power to more than 151,000 customers in Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.
San Diego Gas & Electric was considering shutting off electricity to more than 43,000 customers.
Forecasters also warned of a possible overnight hard freeze with temperatures as low as 23 degrees (-5 Celsius) in the high desert Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles.