Strong Santa Ana winds returned to Southern California Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, increasing the risk of fire and causing damage across the Southland.
Video footage showed gusts of up to 50 mph whipping trees and other plants, toppling some of them. The National Weather Service said one gust in the mountains north of downtown L.A. even topped 100 mph, the Associated Press reported.
In Fontana, a pallet yard fire destroyed two structures, a house and a vacant commercial building. While it began as a small brush fire, the dry winds helped fan the flames.
“It doesn’t take much with this wind to get these sparks going, this fire going again. Even with this wonderful wetting rain that we had last week, fuel still wants to burn, and when you put a 50 mph wind on any receptive fuel bed, you’re going to have fire activity like we saw this evening,” said Eric Sherwin of the San Bernardino County Fire Department.
A nearby mobile home park was also threatened by flying embers, though firefighters were able to mitigate the danger without evacuations.
Beyond the fire risk, the winds also made driving difficult in many areas.
Aerial footage from Sky5 showed a big rig toppled on the eastbound 210 Freeway in Rancho Cucamonga.
In Sylmar, winds downed a power pole, which then leaned at a 30-degree angle toward a strip mall, according to the Fire Department.
While the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was dispatched to handle the pole, the strip mall was “precautionarily evacuated,” as were seven homes in the area, fire officials added.
“Traffic will be affected at the intersection of Roxford St and Glenoaks Blvd for an undetermined period of time – all drivers are advised to seek alternate routes. There are no injuries reported,” officials said in an alert.