Powerful Santa Ana winds moved into Southern California on Monday, prompting alerts for residents and driving a dangerous, wind-driven fire in Orange County.
The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for most of Los Angeles and Ventura counties in effect through Tuesday. Officials said between 2 and 11 p.m. would be “particularly dangerous” in the Los Angeles County mountains.
“New fire ignitions in Los Angeles and Ventura counties will likely have very rapid fire growth, extreme fire behavior, and long range spotting, resulting in a significant threat to life and property,” the NWS said.
Red flag warnings are also in effect for Riverside and San Bernardino counties and Inland Orange County.
A wind gust of 96 mph was recorded in the San Gabriel Mountains on Monday. Extreme wind gusts of 60 to 80 miles per hour were expected to continue in the mountains and valley foothills throughout Monday.
At 5:20 a.m, an 85 mph gust was reported at a Southern California Edison weather site in the mountains above Santa Clarita. In the Newhall area, drivers on Monday morning were urged to use caution as strong winds were reported on State Route 14 from the 5 Freeway to Ward Road, the California Highway Patrol reported.
The trio of strong winds, low humidities and critically dry vegetation has kept fire officials on alert, and in Orange County it didn’t take long for a new fire to erupt.
A fire dubbed the Silverado Fire broke out at 6:45 a.m. in the area of Santiago Canyon Road and Silverado Canyon Road. The wind-driven blaze forced evacuations and was threatening structures. As of 10 a.m., the fire had charred 500 acres and left more than 60,000 Irvine residents scrambling to evacuate.
The National Weather Service recorded gusts up to 84 mph about 6 miles away in Freemont Canyon.
In Orange, the wind damaged a power pole on South Cambridge. Motorists were told to avoid the area from La Veta to Fairhaven Avenue.
The winds also impacted Catalina Island, video posted on Twitter by the Los Angeles County Fire Department showed very choppy waters.
In an effort to prevent its electric system from becoming the source of an ignition, SCE said Monday on its website that power to certain neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties had been temporarily shut off.
Residents who live in areas prone to wildfires are urged to take precautions including reporting any sign of smoke or fire and be prepared and ready to evacuate.
“We encourage the public to make sure they have medications, their documents, bank information anything that is valuable so they can leave quickly, make sure that their animals are cared for and make sure they have a plan for evacuations,” Los Angeles County Fire Captain Mike Bolding said.
Officials also said lawn decor, including tents and holiday decorations, should be removed before the winds pick up anything that is not properly secured.