LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A red flag warning of severe wildfire threat is in effect until noon today for portions of Southern California as Santa Ana winds and low humidity levels combined to created dangerous fire conditions.
The warning, which took effect Wednesday morning, is for the Santa Monica Mountains, Los Angeles County Mountains, the Angeles National Forest, the coastal region stretching into downtown Los Angeles and the Santa Clarita, San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.
A wind advisory will also be in place through noon Thursday for most of Los Angeles County.
According to forecasters, the red flag warning means there is a potential for rapid fire spread should a blaze erupt, along with “extreme fire behavior.''
“This is the time to get set with assembling your emergency supply kit and knowing your evacuation route,'' according to the National Weather Service.
The bulk of Orange County will also be under a red flag warning during the same hours, with wind gusts of 50 to 60 mph anticipated in Santa Ana Mountain canyons, and humidity levels of 7 to 12%.
Whenever high winds are forecast, Southern California Edison customers in affected areas could potentially have their power temporarily turned off as part of an effort to prevent energized electrical lines damaged by gusts that could possibly spark wildfires.
Customers can check to see if they are facing a potential Public Safety Power Shutoff by visiting the utility's website at www.sce.com/psps.
As of about 2 a.m. Thursday, 9,629 SCE customers in Los Angeles and Orange counties had their power turned off under the PSPS program. Another approximately 32,100 customers in both counties were under consideration for power shutoffs.
Despite the fire risk, temperatures will remain on the mild side Thursday, with highs in the 60s and 70s.
A cold weather alert was issued for the Antelope Valley through Saturday, where overnight temperatures were expected to drop below the freezing level.
“Children, the elderly, and people with disabilities or special medical needs are especially vulnerable during cold weather. Extra precaution should be taken to ensure they don't get too cold when they are outside,'' said Dr. Muntu Davis, Los Angeles County health officer. “There are places where people can go to stay warm, such as shelters or other public facilities. We also want to remind people not to use stoves, barbeques or ovens to heat their homes due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.''
Officials also cautioned people in those areas not to leave pets outside at night.
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