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Wind Gusts Have Topped 80 MPH, Toppling Trees, Trucks And Billboards

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A tree knocked over by heavy winds in Santa Paula today resulted in four residential units being red-tagged. (Ventura County Fire Department via Twitter)
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A Red Flag Warning is in effect today for much of Southern California because of strong Santa Ana winds, moderately low humidity, and very dry plants and grasses.

The wind toppled a big rig on the 210 Freeway, knocked down a billboard in Santa Clarita, kicked a tree over onto residences in Santa Paula, and threatened to exacerbate brush fires that broke out across the region.

One of those fires, the Towsley Fire, erupted in Santa Clarita, and has so far burned up to 50 acres, though no structures were threatened,according to a tweet from L.A. County Fire.

Cal Fire and the L.A. County Fire Department are deploying additional resources to be able to respond to any new fires.

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L.A. County Fire placed three additional strike teams around the county — one in the Malibu and Agoura area, another in East L.A., and another in the Santa Clarita area, said spokesman Henry Narvaez.

"And they're strategically placed there so they can spring at a moment's notice in an initial attack if anything were to spring up," he said.

Each strike team includes five fire engines and 20 firefighters.

People should be extremely cautious and think beyond things like cigarettes and campfires that could start a wildfire, said National Weather Service forecaster Ryan Kittell:

"Less obvious things like dragging trailer hitch chains, even brush clearing or weed whackers that can hit on rocks and start sparks in a dry spot, all those things have started fires before."

Meanwhile, Southern California Edison has shut off power to about 55,000 customers because of the high fire danger, mostly in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Ventura counties.
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Another 255,000 customers have been warned they may lose power; nearly half of them are in Ventura County.

Some of the strongest gusts recorded today in the Santa Clarita Valley were:

  • Saugus: 71 MPH (9:57 AM)
  • Castaic Lake: 69 MPH (8:50 AM)
  • Magic Mountain: 62 MPH (10:10 AM)
  • Browns Canyon: 74 MPH (8:30 AM)
  • Warm Springs RAWS: 87 MPH (8:53 AM)
  • Magic Mountain Truck Trail: 86 MPH (9:50 AM)

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