Gusty winds bring another day of peak fire danger, power outages


SAN DIEGO (CNS) – More critical fire-weather conditions were forecast for Friday through the San Diego area due to gusty Santa Ana winds and low humidity, which combined to heighten the risk of wildfires.

In response to the extremely arid and windy conditions, San Diego Gas & Electric shut off power to about 73,000 customers Thursday morning, addresses in particularly at-risk inland communities due to combustion hazards posed by transmission equipment.

As of Friday morning the number of customers without power due to Public Safety Power Shutoffs was approximately 39,000. You can check an updated list of affected communities by clicking here.

“Inspections of power lines will resume promptly after sunrise (Friday) morning with the focus of trying to safely restore as many customers as possible,” the statement said.

Due to the worrisome conditions — including humidity levels expected to dip below 10%, sustained 30-plus-mph winds and gusts of 60 mph or higher — the National Weather Service on Wednesday evening issued a “red flag” wildfire alert for local inland valley and highland areas, effective through 10 p.m. Saturday.

By late Thursday morning, peak wind gusts had reached 95 mph on Big Black Mountain in Mesa Grande; 93 mph at Sill Hill; 84 mph in Hellhole Canyon; and 77 mph in Boulder Creek, Horse Launch and the Hauser Mountain area, according to the NWS.

To help those affected by the blackouts, SDG&E opened community resource centers in Descanso, Lake Morena, Pine Valley, Julian, Fallbrook, Dulzura, Warner Springs, Potrero, Ramona and Valley Center. They were scheduled to remain open until 10 p.m. Thursday, and offer access to water, WiFi, ice, snacks, phone and medical device charging, water trucks for livestock and up-to- date information on outages.

On Friday, campuses in the following school districts will be closed, according to the San Diego County Office of Education:

  • Alpine Union
  • Dehesa
  • Valley Center-Pauma Unified
  • Warner Unified

The following individual schools also will be closed for the day: Jamacha Elementary, Eucalyptus Hills and Lakeside Farms.

The dry and windy weather pattern is likely to continue into next week, though likely in a weakened manner, forecasters said.

A brush fire broke out in the unincorporated Rancho San Diego area near El Cajon late Wednesday and blackened 30 acres. The wind-whipped blaze destroyed one home and damaged six others but was fully contained by Thursday evening after firefighters worked overnight and through the day to douse the flames.

All evacuation warnings for the fire were lifted by early Thursday.

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