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Fire warning issued as strong winds hit Southern California

October 25, 2012 |  9:04 am

Gardner Celsio Avilar rakes up leaves across the street from a tree that collapsed into the road near the corner of Pine and Laurel Way in Beverly Hills. Credit: Bob Chamberlin  / Los Angeles Times

Weather experts are predicting strong winds Thursday night in what one meteorologist described as L.A. County's "first widespread Santa Ana event of the year, strongest one we've had so far."

The gustiest winds should occur from Thursday night until Friday morning, a period in which they could reach up to 30 mph and diminishing to 15 to 20 mph later in the afternoon, said Scott Sukup of the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

The winds will likely be strongest in mountain canyons and passes, he said.

The L.A. County Sheriff's Department issued an "extreme fire danger" warning related to the Santa Ana winds.

"Winds are forecast to gust as high as 60 mph in the Los Angeles and Santa Monica Mountains," officials said in a statement, warning that travel could be difficult for some vehicles on the 5 and 14 freeways in the Newhall Pass.

"Winds will weaken overnight Friday into Saturday morning, but remain offshore and keep relative humidities low," the department said. "These strong winds and low relative humidities, combined with critically dry fuels, will create a potential for extreme fire danger and the possibility of large fires Thursday evening through Friday evening."

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-- Ari Bloomekatz

Photo: Gardner Celsio Avilar rakes up leaves across the street from a tree that collapsed into the road near the corner of Pine and Laurel Way in Beverly Hills. Credit: Bob Chamberlin  / Los Angeles Times

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