After Holiday in the Dark, Los Angeles-Area Outage Expands
Firefighters with Roseburg Engine 11 out of Eugene, Oregon survey a property under threat of fire along Pine Flat Road during the CZU Lightning Complex in Santa Cruz County, California, U.S. (Photographer: Philip Pacheco/Bloomberg)

After Holiday in the Dark, Los Angeles-Area Outage Expands

More people are losing electricity as winds buffet Southern California, a day after Edison International started cutting power on Thanksgiving Day to reduce the risk of wildfire.

More than 16,000 customers north and east of Los Angeles were without power as of 1:10 p.m. local time, and the utility is considering expanding the blackout to more than 46,000 homes and businesses.

While fire warnings in the Los Angeles and Ventura county mountains, as well as the Santa Clarita and Ventura valleys, will remain in effect through 6 p.m. Saturday, the company is expecting the wind event to subside by Friday evening. People who have lost power should have it restored within 24 hours after that -- customers who do have electricity can probably stop worrying that their homes will go dark, Taelor Bakewell, a spokeswoman for Southern California Edison, said Friday.

The outages could spread as the wind storm moves south across the state. Sempra Energy’s San Diego-area utility warned it was considering shutting off power to 2,700 homes and businesses, or about 8,000 people, starting Friday.

A Santa Ana wind storm is raking across the region with winds reaching 60 miles (97 kilometers) per hour in the mountains, according to the National Weather Service. The gusts were expected to peak Friday morning, then gradually weaken into Saturday.

The outages strike at a difficult time. California is enduring its worst wave yet of coronavirus infections, with almost 15,000 new cases and 104 deaths reported on Thursday. State officials begged residents to cancel large family gatherings for Thanksgiving and stay at home.

Almost all of California remains either abnormally dry or in drought, according to the United States Drought Monitor website. Winter rains have begun in Northern California but have barely touched the south, leaving grass, shrubs and trees vulnerable to wildfires. The state’s record-breaking fire season has already scorched 4.2 million acres and killed 31 people this year.

Some of the deadliest blazes in California history have been sparked by power lines falling or tangling with tree branches, and utilities have taken to cutting electricity service during high winds to reduce the risk of sparking more.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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