Fire Watch Continues in SoCal With Strong Winds, Dry Conditions in the Forecast Through Sunday

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Northerly winds that whipped through Southern California overnight will remain in the region through the weekend, increasing the likelihood of wildfires as dry conditions persist, forecasters said.

Two deadly fires exploded last week during similar weather conditions: the Saddleridge Fire in the San Fernando Valley and the Sandalwood Fire in the Calimesa area of Riverside County.

As in previous days, Southern California Edison is again considering cutting service for thousands of its customers in an effort to avoid wildfires.

Strongest winds expected through Friday morning, when humidities drop

The most powerful winds were expected Thursday night through early Friday in the I-5 Corridor and southern Santa Barbara County, where a wind-driven, 420-acre blaze briefly shut down a portion of the 101 Freeway and prompted some evacuation orders along the Gaviota coast earlier Thursday.

Forecasters recorded 67 mph gusts in Montecito Hills at around 2:45 a.m. Friday.

Winds will strengthen again Saturday night and continue into Sunday, forecasters said. Weak Santa Ana winds will likely develop Sunday night and persist into early next week, according to the National Weather Service.

The San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys, mountain areas (excluding the Santa Monica Mountains) and coastal foothills could see 30 to 50 mph winds through Sunday, the weather service said.

Winds were so strong overnight Friday in some areas that they toppled trees in Burbank, Van Nuys and Panorama City. Sandberg, in the northwest region of L.A. County, saw 70 mph gusts at around 2 a.m.

Meanwhile, humidities will drop to their lowest on Friday morning through Saturday afternoon, the weather service said.

Forecasters issued a fire weather watch warning for central to southern Santa Barbara County effective 6 p.m. Friday through 8 p.m. Sunday.

Possible power outages across SoCal

SoCal Edison as of Friday morning was considering preemptively cutting power for up to 22,504 customers, including those in Santa Barbara, Palmdale, Chatsworth, Castaic, Mammoth Lakes, Yorba Linda, Ventura and surrounding areas. Click here for the latest list and maps of communities that could be affected by the wildfire prevention measure.

The utility is under scrutiny as officials continue to investigate what caused the deadly Saddleridge Fire on Oct. 10, which they believe ignited below a SoCal Gas Edison transmission line in Sylmar amid high winds.

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