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Santa Ana Winds Return, Raising Wildfire Threat For San Diego County

Fire crews look on as they fight a wildfire Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, in Bonsal...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: Fire crews look on as they fight a wildfire Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, in Bonsall, Calif.

Santa Ana winds are expected to return to San Diego County on Thursday and Friday, raising the threat of wildfires in the region.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning which will be in effect from 5 a.m. Thursday to 5 p.m. Friday in the county mountains and valleys. The alert denotes the potential for "critical fire weather conditions" across both areas.

Winds out of the east and northeast are expected to hit speeds of 25- 35 mph by early Thursday morning, with isolated gusts up to 60 mph near mountain ridge tops, and daytime air-moisture levels will drop to 5-10 percent, with poor overnight recover, forecasters said.

"A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior" according to the NWS. "Use extreme caution with potential fire ignition sources."

RELATED: Wildfire Risk Elevated With Wave Of Hot Santa Ana Winds

The winds should become calmer late Friday and their origin will shift to the west by Saturday, forecasters said.

Temperatures will stay high Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before a cooling trend starts Saturday.

High temperatures could reach 85 degrees Wednesday near the coast, 92 inland, 95 in the western valleys, 86 in the mountains and 95 in the deserts.

The predicted Santa Ana winds prompted San Diego Gas & Electric to notify roughly 24,000 customers of potential power shutoffs for safety reasons amid the elevated wildfire risk.

Among areas expected to possibly be affected were Alpine, Barona, Barrett Lake, Boulevard, Campo, Cuyamaca, Descanso, east Poway, East Valley Center, Julian, Mesa Grande, Mount Laguna, Palomar Mountain, Pine Valley, Potrero, Ramona, portions of Rancho Bernardo, Santa Ysabel, Shelter Valley, Viejas and Warner Springs.

All schools in Julian were closed Wednesday because of an unplanned outage that began around noon Tuesday, said Music Watson, a spokeswoman with the San Diego County Office of Education.

The unplanned outage was reported at 11:57 a.m. Tuesday, affecting 1,619 customers in the Julian, Santa Ysabel, Banner and Pine Hills areas, according to an SDG&E online outage map.

Power was expected to be restored to all customers by noon Wednesday, according to the utility company.

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