CALIFORNIA: “Extreme Red Flag” Wildfires Alert Issued

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Even after several years of devastating wind-driven fires in Southern California, forecasters fear that the next two days could bring new levels of danger. “Extreme” fire weather began in the Los Angeles area at 11 p.m. Tuesday and was expected to persist for 30 hours, bringing isolated gusts of up to 80 mph.

It’s an unusually long Santa Ana wind condition, and fire weather of this kind hasn’t been seen in Southern California since October 2007, when similar conditions helped unleash the sixth most destructive fire in California history.

The National Weather Service office in Oxnard took the unusual step of labeling the fire weather conditions an “extreme red flag” warning, a term that meteorologists there say they can’t remember ever using. But they did so to underscore the severity of this Santa Ana wind event.

The Associated Press reports:

Californians are facing winds, wildfires and darkness from yet another power outage for more than 1 million people.

Pacific Gas & Electric is blacking out about 1.5 million people in some 30 counties to prevent high winds from toppling power lines and sparking fires. It’s the third shutoff in a week.

A fire in northern wine country and another in the wealthy Brentwood area of Los Angeles have burned dozens of homes. Both were driven by strong winds.

NBC Los Angeles reports:

Firefighters are attacking a brush fire that forced evacuations Wednesday morning in a Simi Valley neighborhood near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

The 15-acre Easy Fire was reported on a hillside between Simi Valley and Moorpark during extreme red flag conditions. All homes on Tierra Rejada Road are threatened, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.

The strongest Santa Ana winds of the season, possibly in the last decade, are expected Wednesday. The winds, produced by surface high pressure over the Great Basin squeezing air down through canyons and passes in Southern California’s mountain ranges, are common in the fall and have a long history of fanning destructive wildfires in the region.