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  • Raging gusts fan fires, knock out power

    first_imgThe strong winds resulted from the collision of the jet stream with a cold front that swept down from the Northwest, said Curt Kaplan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. They were expected to subside today. Downed power lines cut electricity to an estimated 80,000 utility customers in Los Angeles and 20,000 in the Santa Clarita, San Gabriel and Antelope valleys, officials said. Winds also snapped off tree branches and sent debris flying. Several cars were reported damaged by fallen branches, but no injuries were reported. Police closed an 85-mile-long stretch of Highway58 from Bakersfield to Boron. And a sandstorm triggered a 17-car pileup near Newberry Springs that killed two people along Interstate40. “There are times when you can’t even see the roads,” said Rod Van Norman, superintendent of the Southern Kern Unified School District in Rosamond. “One of our bus drivers said they almost got hit by a 4-by-8-foot sheet of plywood.” A wind-fanned fire also burned 25 acres near Pearblossom and Sierra highways in the Antelope Valley and threatened several homes. Staff Writers Rick Coca and Jim Skeen and The Associated Press contributed to this report. [email protected] (818) 713-3664160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “I’ve lived here 40 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Sybil Israel, whose home in the 2000 block of Beverly Drive was in the path of the fire. “It’s not knowing what’s going to happen that’s so scary.” Five water-dropping helicopters and 200 firefighters from the Beverly Hills, Los Angeles and Los Angeles County fire departments were called in amid fears that blowing embers would ignite tinder-dry brush in the rugged canyons nearby. “It was an extreme challenge for the firefighters with the winds,” Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Ron Myers said. “The flames were coming at them. It feels like opening a hot oven, with that radiant heat blowing at you.” Authorities evacuated nearby homes even as other residents tried to get into the area. They were stopped by officials who blocked off Beverly Boulevard, Coldwater Canyon Avenue and Franklin Canyon Drive. “I’ve got to go through! I’ve got to get home! I have a sick wife!” one man shouted. Winds gusting to 100 mph roared across Southern California on Thursday, uprooting trees, knocking out power and fanning a brushfire that damaged four multimillion-dollar homes in Beverly Hills. Caused by the collision of the jet stream and a powerful cold front, the winds raked the region from the High Desert to the South Bay. Strong gusts knocked out power to an estimated 100,000 customers and triggered a blinding sandstorm blamed for causing a fatal crash near Barstow. Mojave Airport in the Antelope Valley clocked a gust at 107mph. Winds fanned several brushfires, including one that blackened 50acres in Beverly Hills, destroying one mansion and damaging three others. last_img read more