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Southern California enters 2nd day without power as winds rage

Thousands of Southern California residents remain in the dark Friday after Edison International switched off the power on Thanksgiving Day to reduce the risk of wildfire.

Almost 9,000 customers north and east of Los Angeles were without power as of 5:20 a.m. local time, and with strong winds continuing to buffet the region, the utility is considering expanding the blackout to more than 100,000 homes and businesses.

Fire warnings in the Los Angeles and Ventura mountains, as well as the Santa Clarita and Ventura valleys, will remain in effect through 6 p.m. Saturday. A Santa Ana wind storm is raking across the region with winds reaching 65 mph in the mountains, according to the National Weather Service.

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 early Friday.

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.


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