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A Christmas Miracle: Power Restored To Thousands After Precautionary Shutoffs Due To Santa Ana Winds

SANTA CLARITA (CBSLA) – The Santa Ana winds have died down Thursday night, just in time for Christmas — giving many SoCal residents the gift of restored power.

Thousands Without Power On Christmas Eve Due To Santa Ana Winds
A family in the Canyon Country area of Santa Clarita, Calif., runs a generator due to the power shutoffs caused by Santa Ana winds. Dec. 23, 2020. (CBSLA)

After more than a day in the dark, Canyon Country residents can see the light again.

"It's Christmas. You can't see your family...and then on top of that, not having power — not even the Christmas lights — it's a different feeling to get it back, " said Virginia Thomasino.

On Wednesday, SoCal Edison instituted precautionary shutoffs to thousands of customers after a red flag warning went into effect.

"It's just the uncertainty," Thomasino said. "It was stressful."

Melissa McCarthy in Canyon Country was one of many people rushing out to purchase generators to try and keep her family's food from spoiling. She told CBSLA that her power was cut at 8 a.m. Wednesday. She was told it wouldn't come back back until Christmas Day.

"I understand that there might be a fire, I get that," McCarthy said. "But what I don't get, Edison, is how do you turn off (power to) one side of the street, and you leave the other side on? It doesn't make any sense."

Powerful winds coupled with dry conditions and low humidity levels have created an increased risk for wildfires that could down trees and power lines. Fire crews in Fontana Wednesday battled a brush fire that burned 150 acres near the 15 Freeway and Sierra Avenue. No homes were damaged. Another fire burned over 750 acres on the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in northern San Diego County, forcing thousands of people to flee.

SCE has already carried out several such power shutoffs over the past few months, with this marking the fourth Santa Ana wind event since since late October.

On the night of Dec. 2, Santa Ana winds helped spread a wildfire which broke out in Silverado Canyon area east of Irvine. The 7,300-acre Bond Fire, which started as a house fire before spreading into nearby brush, destroyed at least 31 structures and damaged another 21 more. It forced thousands of people to flee.

Beginning in August and lasting through October, there were several heat waves in California which sparked rolling blackouts for the first time since 2001, and helped contribute to the spread of a historic number of wildfires up and down the state which destroyed thousands of homes and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate.

SCE notified California state regulators that its equipment may have been to blame for sparking the Silverado Fire, which broke out east of Irvine in late October , burning 13,400 acres and forcing more than 90,000 to evacuate their homes.

Also in October, Ventura County fire investigators reported that the Easy and Maria fires, which broke out in October of 2019, were both caused by electrical equipment failures. In the Easy Fire, SCE equipment was to blame, officials said.

In November of 2019, while the Easy and Maria fires were still burning, SCE reached a $360 million settlement admitting that its equipment was also responsible for starting the 2017 Thomas Fire and the 2018 Woolsey Fire.

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