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Widespread power outages from high winds [updated]

December 30, 2010 |  9:28 am

High winds knocked down trees and caused power outages throughout Southern California overnight and Thursday morning, leaving thousands of residents in the dark.

About 32,260 Southern California Edison customers were without power Wednesday night, said spokesperson Mashi Nyssen. The most affected areas included San Bernardino, Lancaster, Bell Gardens, Inglewood, Downey, Running Springs, Ventura and Palm Desert. Edison serves about 4.9 million customers, taking in most of Southern California with the exception of Los Angeles and several other areas with municipal utilities.

[Updated at 10:20 a.m.: As of 9:40 a.m., Southern California Edison had 27,009 customers without power due to storms, spokesman Paul Klein said. Hardest-hit areas include: San Bernardino, Loma Linda, Lake Arrowhead, Springville, Lancaster, Mammoth Lake, Redlands, Palos Verdes Estates and Pasadena. Most of the outages started being reported shortly after 3:30 a.m., Klein said.

“We made some progress,” Klein said. “We have restored power to about 5,000 people since the morning.  It’s kind of a fluid situation. Our crews have been working since the storms started and they’ll continue to work around the clock.”]

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power also reported problems affecting about 3,000 customers, mostly in Silver Lake and Lincoln Heights. Reports of outages began arriving in batches around 3 a.m., said spokesperson Kim Hughes.

A portion of Silver Lake, however, was without power from 10:30 p.m. until about 2:15 a.m.

“Our key focus is to get the power back on as safely as possible,” Hughes said. “If someone sees a downed wire, they should consider it energized and dangerous." And they should call 1-800-DIAL DWP.

Some outages were caused by falling trees and limbs, which also damaged cars, and resulted in minor injuries for at least two drivers. One tree fell onto a house in Hollywood, knocking down power lines but causing no injuries.

Morning television crews found smashed cars all over, including an oak that crushed a vehicle in San Fernando. Trees also toppled onto cars in Atwater and Los Feliz. Blowing tumbleweeds forced a freeway closure in Bell Gardens, according to KABC Channel 7.

KTLA Channel 5 found a driver who had a close call. Greg Mora told KTLA that he avoided a tumbleweed only to have a tree crash onto his car a block later. He escaped with scratches.

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-- Howard Blume

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