Gusty, dry Santa Ana winds swept parts of Southern California on Monday, forcing utilities to begin targeted power cuts to prevent electrical equipment from sparking and igniting wildfires in vegetation dried out after the hot summer months.

The Santa Anas were expected to grow in strength through the day and persist into Tuesday.

Southern California Edison de-energized circuits serving nearly 12,000 customers in four counties and was considering cuts to more than 193,000 customers in nine counties. San Diego Gas & Electric cut 30 customers’ power and said about 50,000 more could be affected.

Ventura County firefighters chased a small fire that erupted at late-morning and spread along the Santa Clara River in agricultural land northwest of Los Angeles.

Citing improved conditions, Pacific Gas & Electric canceled plans to turn off power to about 8,500 customers in five counties in its service areas in northern and central California.

Winds blowing in the San Francisco Bay Area were expected to decrease in strength through the day, but humidity levels were also predicted to continue falling.

Associated Press