The first Santa Ana winds of the season roared across the state on Monday, killing a woman, downing trees, causing power outages and putting fire crews on edge.
Utility companies and fire agencies alike were on high alert as the powerful winds paired with bone-dry vegetation and humidity in the single digits. The combination created prime conditions for wildfires, even after last weekend's rain.
Wind speeds Monday hit 82 mph in Fremont Canyon just east of the Orange County Zoo, and gusts topping 60 mph were reported in numerous Southern California locations. The National Weather Service issued red-flag warnings for areas including Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino counties through Tuesday evening.
"Winds don't start fires, but if one ignites, the winds certainly are going to promote that fire and make it difficult to fight," said Bonnie Bartling, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service.
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