The National Weather Service issued red flag warnings for parts of multiple counties, including San Diego, Los Angeles and Ventura — collectively affecting more than 17 million people through Friday afternoon.
Winds as high as 74 mph swept through the Los Angeles neighborhood of Pacoima on Thursday, the agency said.
“The critical fire weather area encompasses more than 3 million people from Thursday overnight into Friday morning, and this number drops to more than one million for mainly Los Angeles and Ventura counties on Friday,” CNN meteorologist Rob Shackelford said. The elevated threat could remain in the region through Sunday, he said.
Red flag warnings are issued when an area experiences conditions ideal for sparking and expanding fires, which may occur when winds are strong, humidity is low and temperatures are warm, the NWS explained.
The utility, which serves 5 million customers, said that it cut off the electricity because high winds tend to increase the risk of power lines falling and sparking wildfires. Most of the cutoffs were in Riverside County, which sits east of Los Angeles.
CalFire said in a Facebook post it had prepared ahead of Thanksgiving for the risk of wildfires, with resources increased “strategically throughout portions of Southern CA in preparation for the critical fire weather.”
The state’s wildfire season has been devastating so far this year with 8,367 blazes having scorched more than 3 million acres, according to CalFire. The fires have been exacerbated by climate change creating hotter and drier conditions.
CNN’s Andy Rose contributed to this report.