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High winds down countless trees, blocking roads and cutting power

December 1, 2011 |  6:34 am

Downed tree on gas station
Scores of homes in Southern California were without power Thursday as wind gusts of up to 100 mph tore through the region, causing Pasadena to declare a state of emergency and at least one school district to cancel classes.

Residents awoke Thursday to find trees and debris strewn across roads and freeways. Roofs were blown off houses, and in Pasadena, one of the hardest-hit areas, a Shell station at San Gabriel and Colorado was destroyed as a tree fell onto the roof and crumpled the gas pumps.

At LAX, at least 20 flights had to be diverted to LA/Ontario International Airport and others were put in holding patterns, officials said. Power was restored at the airport Thursday morning.

Pasadena police Lt. Jari Faulkner said the gas station was manned at the time and an employee successfully shut off the pumps, so no fuel leaked out.

"We probably have over 100 trees that are down and arcing wires and transformers that have blown," Faulkner said. She said some neighborhoods are completely without power, including in Altadena.

In a statement, the Pasadena police department urged its residents to "limit their travel tonight during the severe wind storm. Due to severe wind conditions, please remain inside."

Nearly 250,000 customers were without power, said Southern California Edison.

Before midnight, the wind was so strong in downtown L.A. that a gust of 56 mph was recorded before the anemometer broke, according to the National Weather Service. Potted plants that weighed 10 gallons blew down. Gusts reached 60 mph were reported in Glendale, Mt. Washington, and in Pasadena; and up to 65 mph in parts of the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.

The Santa Ana winds are expected to continue through Thursday afternoon, and then pick up again Thursday night.

Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said after midnight, Los Angeles city firefighters were being dispatched every 12 seconds, responding to emergency calls like downed power lines.


Santa Ana winds: Gas station in Pasadena crushed by fallen tree

Wind gusts near 100 mph reported; about 25,500 without power

Wind-driven grass fire prompts evacuation at Occidental College

— Rong-Gong Lin II

Photo: A downed tree crushes a Pasadena gas station. Credit: KTLA