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Gusty winds uproot trees, trigger power outages

April 30, 2011 |  8:16 pm

Gusty winds blew out of Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon, leaving scattered minor damage in canyon and hilly areas.

Trees were uprooted and branches torn from trunks in North Hills and Canoga Park and in the Inland Empire area, and a wind-blown fire torched several palm trees in Tarzana, authorities said.

Small grass fires also brought out firefighters in Acton, Malibu and Palmdale, but no structural damage was reported.

About 800 Encino customers of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power were without electricity  early Saturday night and work crews were attempting to reroute cables in areas where lines had been knocked down, a department spokeswoman said.

Some 3,600 homes served by Southern California Edison Co. were left in the dark Saturday because of power lines that were downed by blowing branches and debris. Hardest hit were areas of Riverside, San Bernardino, Fontana and Redlands, a spokesman said.

Power was interrupted at various times Saturday for a total of 31,900 customers, including some in Santa Barbara and Tulare counties, the spokesman said.  Most of those outages lasted one or two minutes as electrical switching equipment automatically shut down to avoid problems and then restarted on its own.

But more wind was predicted Sunday in Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties by U.S. Weather Service  forecasters in Oxnard.

Meteorologists warned that gusty offshore winds were expected to increase Saturday night in those areas, strengthening late Sunday.

They said that gusts as high as 45 mph could make driving difficult, especially for high-profile vehicles such as trucks, vans and trailers.

Forecasters said temperatures Sunday will range from the 90s inland to the 70s along the beaches. They said the heat wave will continue through Thursday.

–- Bob Pool