Powerful Santa Ana Winds, Wildfires Creating Hazardous Air Quality in Parts of SoCal

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The strong Santa Ana winds tearing through Southern California have fanned multiple brush fires, creating very unhealthy air quality from windblown dust and ash.

Air quality was the worst in the Inland Empire Thursday afternoon, with air in an area centered on Corona considered hazardous, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

The agency issued a dust advisory through Friday afternoon for areas of Riverside, Orange and San Bernardino counties. The areas expected to suffer the worst effects include:

Riverside County: Corona, Riverside, Norco, Perris Valley, Lake Elsinore, Temecula Valley, Anza Valley, Hemet-San Jacinto Valley, San Gorgonio Pass, Coachella Valley and east Riverside County
• San Bernardino County: western, central and eastern parts of the San Bernardino Valley
• Orange County: northern and central O.C.

The Santa Anas are delivering gusts over 60 mph in some areas, and strong winds over 30 mph are expected to continue throughout Thursday and into Friday morning, officials say.

People who live in areas affected are advised to stay indoors as much as possible, keep windows and doors closed and avoid vigorous physical activity.

The wind event, coupled with low humidity, triggered red flag warnings for much of Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties in place through 6 p.m. Friday.

Southern California Edison shut off power for thousands in parts of L.A., Ventura, San Bernardino and Kern counties in an attempt to preempt brush fires sparked by electrical equipment.

Despite the prevention effort, multiple wildfires erupted Thursday.

Two of the largest, the Reche Fire near Moreno Valley and Sandalwood Fire in Calimesa, spread rapidly to several hundred acres, and the latter destroyed several homes. A third blaze burned multiple homes in Fontana.

The wind event is forecast to subside Friday afternoon.

Click here for an interactive map of current air quality conditions.

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