California Fires Live Updates: Santa Ana Winds Raise Threat – The New York Times, The New York Times

California Fires Live Updates: Santa Ana Winds Raise Threat – The New York Times, The New York Times

There was some good news for firefighters in Northern California as gusts were not as strong as expected. However, dangerous Santa Ana winds were predicted to whip Southern California.

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Forecasters have predicted winds between 50 mph and 70 mph in the Los Angeles area, with some gusts up to 80 mph

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A forecast of powerful winds and low humidity was expected to worsen conditions for the fires that are burning in Northern and Southern California.CreditCredit …Eric Thayer for The New York Times

California was facing the worst kind of weather for wildfires on Wednesday – strong, gusty winds and very low humidity.

There was some encouraging news overnight in Northern California, where firefighters have been battling the Kincade Fire, with wind gusts not coming in as strong as had been predicted.

The Kincade Fire has so far burned more than 76, 000 acres and destroyed 189 structures, and remains only 15 percent contained.

Farther south, in the Los Angeles area, where a blaze known as the Getty Fire has prompted the evacuation of more than 7, 000 homes, Santa Ana winds were expected to strengthen. “We’re calling this an extreme red flag warning event,” said Curt Kaplan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard, Calif.

Forecasters have predicted winds between 50 mph and 70 mph in Los Angeles County and Ventura County, with some gusts up to 80 mph in the mountainous areas of Los Angeles County, the National Weather Service said. The scale for Category 1 hurricanes begins at 74 mph

Winds were expected to peak after 6 a.m. local time, Mr. Kaplan said, adding: “If a fire does ignite we are expecting some pretty extreme fire behavior.”

On Tuesday , the National Weather Service had posted“red flag” warningsfor most of Northern California and much of Southern California.

Some of those warnings remain in effect, but “winds have eased” in the San Francisco Bay Area, the National Weather Servicesaid on Twitteron Wednesday morning, adding that those winds are still strong and could contribute to critical fire conditions. A wind advisory in the North Bay Mountains wascanceled.

“Containment continues to increase” across the state, Scott McLean, a spokesman for Cal Fire, said on Wednesday morning.

The threat posed by the winds has led the utility Pacific Gas and Electric to cut off power to about 1.5 million people in some 30 counties in Northern California in recent days, with about 1 million still without electricity since the weekend.

With many school districts closed in Sonoma County and surrounding counties, parents have been left trying to entertain their children amid power outages and evacuations.

Parker Palizi, 9, did not mind getting a few days off from sch ool, but the thought of staying home in Novato without working electronics was less than appealing. “There’s no fun stuff we can do,” he said. Still, Parker was more concerned about his pet bearded dragon, Spike, whom he was bringing in a glass tank to a hotel room in Carmel-by-the-Sea, where electricity beckoned.

“He needs the heat lamp to stay alive,” Parker said.

The Palizis, who live in Marin County, were supposed to be on a 7 am flight from Los Angeles on Monday so Delilah could perform as an elephant in her second-grade play. “She was so excited,” said her mother, Brooke Palizi, who works for a nonprofit organization.

But Delilah’s star turn will have to wait. The Novato Unified School District canceled school on Monday, and then on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Palizis learned late Monday afternoon. By then they were driving a rental car the seven and a half hours home.

The Windsor High School girls volleyball team had been slated to play in the playoffs on Wednesday, until a mandatory evacuation order came for the entire town of 28, 000 on Saturday morning, giving residents six hours to flee. With all the district’s schools closed this week, the town on lockdown and the team scattered, Coach Rich Schwarz said he and the athletic director made the difficult decision to forfeit the game.

The players responded to his group text announcing the decision with sad-face emojis and messages of support, said Mr. Schwarz, who is in his final year coaching the team.

“How do we play when we don’t have practice and don ‘ t know where the girls are? said Mr. Schwarz, who is staying with his sister in the town of Rohnert Park. “We can’t tell parents to break into the town to get their uniforms. At what point does an extracurricular activity become way too much? We need to let families worry about whether their house is still standing. ”

[The New York Times has photographers on the ground, documenting the California wildfires and the battle to contain them.Follow their work here.]

The Getty fire startedwhen a branch broke offa tree and hit nearby power lines – an accident that Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles called an “act of God.”

The power lines began to spark and ignited nearby brush, Mr. Garcetti said at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon. He said investigators have not found any evidence that faulty equipment started the fire.

The fire, which has burned at least (acres and was 15 percent contained as of Tuesday night, broke out shortly after 1: 30 am Monday along the major freeway known as the 405, near the Getty Center. It quickly spread through neighborhoods north of Brentwood, destroying 12 homes and damaging five more .

The authorities determined the cause in part after seeing dash cam footage that showed an explosion on the side of the road early Monday morning, Mr . Garcetti said.

Reporting was contributed by Dan Levin, Thomas Fuller, Julie Turkewitz, Jose A. Del Real and Jacey Fortin.

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