40,000 People Ordered to Flee Fires Near Los Angeles

Firefighters make a stand as a wildfire approaches the backyard of a home Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019, in Santa Clarita, Calif. Firefighters are protecting homes from a wind-whipped fire that's roaring toward subdivisions north of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

GEYSERVILLE, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say they’ve ordered at least 40,000 people to evacuate as wind-driven fires rage near neighborhoods north of Los Angeles.

Several homes burned Thursday as two fires fanned by powerful winds swept through dry brush to the edge of communities in the Santa Clarita area. No injuries have been immediately reported.

Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby says there is no containment of either blaze.

The flames are fed by dry winds that are predicted to strengthen across the region. Forecasters say peak gusts could top 70 mph

Pacific Gas & Electric says it’s too soon to know whether faulty equipment started a wind-whipped fire in Northern California wine country.

The utility told state regulators that it learned of a transmission level outage on Wednesday night in the Geysers, the world’s largest geothermal field. The wildfire was reported minutes later in the same area.

CEO Bill Johnson said Thursday that conducting wire on a PG&E transmission tower malfunctioned but that authorities haven’t determined what started the fire.

Johnson said the tower is 43 years old, which isn’t uncommon in the industry, and had been inspected four times in the last two years. He said the tower appears to have been in “excellent condition.”

PG&E cut power to distribution lines in the area but not transmission lines because the wind speed didn’t call for it.

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