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Power Shut Offs Begin as Red Flag Warning Takes Effect

Just as a Red Flag Warning cautioning San Diego County residents to extreme fire weather conditions was set to take effect Thursday, San Diego Gas & Electric began to cut power to residents. 

San Diego Gas & Electric cut power to about two dozen customers in the Santa Ysabel and the Descanso areas at about 4 a.m. amid potentially fire-fueling Santa Ana winds. 

The agency doubled the amount of customers that could see forced power shut-offs while the Red Flag Warning was in effect to nearly 42,000 customers. The move is meant to prevent fires that could spark from a downed power line, according to the agency. 

Areas that could be affected include: Alpine, Barona, Barrett Lake, Black Mountain Ranch, Boulevard, Campo, Coronado Hills, Cuyamaca, Descanso, East Poway, East Valley Center, Elfin Forest, Julian, Lake Hodges, Mesa Grande, Mount Laguna, Olivenhain, Palomar Mountain, Pine Valley, Potrero, Ramona, Rancho Bernardo West, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos, Santa Ysabel, Shelter Valley, Viejas and Warner Springs.

Customers alerted were not given any scheduled time. Instead, SDG&E said they would continue to monitor weather conditions and alert customers if a shut off was necessary.

The Red Flag Warning took effect at 5  a.m. Thursday and would last until 5 p.m. Friday. During that time, the combination of gusty winds, hot temperatures and low humidity that make the perfect conditions for wildfires to spark and spread rapidly. 

Winds were expected to average 40 to 50 miles per hour with some isolated gusts reaching 60 mph. In wind-prone passes and canyons, winds could even reach 75 mph, according to NBC 7 Meteorologist Sheena Parveen. Humidity was expected to be less than 10 percent and temperatures were expected to be in the mid-90s to low-100s.

Winds will peak overnight, when a high wind warning was scheduled to go into effect for the inland valleys, foothills and mountains. 

Fire agencies staffed up Thursday to prepare for the hazardous conditions. San Diego Fire-Rescue added two brush-rig strike teams and had crews on overtime for two firefighting helicopters, which would be available for 24-hours a day through Friday evening.

Cal Fire San Diego brought in an extra air tanker to the Ramona Air Base on Wednesday. The agency added an additional eight engines, four water tenders and a helicopter to help in any firefight that arises. 

This week’s extreme heat could cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke. The National Weather Service urges residents to drink plenty of water, stay in air-conditioned rooms and stay out of the sun as much as possible.

NBC 7 Weathercaster Ashley Matthews pinpointed some coastal areas that are predicted to have the lowest high temperatures as possible “cool off spots.” Those beaches include Encinitas, with a forecasted high of 77 degrees, and La Jolla, with a forecasted high of 78 degrees. For the South Bay, Imperial Beach is expected to see a high temperature of 83 degrees.  

For a list of cool zones in San Diego County, click here

Some relief is expected on Saturday when winds shift to an onshore flow, ending the Santa Ana event, Parveen said. This will give humidity a chance to recover and allow temperatures to cool. 

Source: NBC San Diego

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