A red flag fire danger warning outside a fire station in Valley Center. Courtesy OnScene.TV

Unseasonably hot temperatures and strong Santa Ana winds will continue Friday in San Diego County, raising the threat of wildfires and prompting power shutoffs for nearly 19,000 homes and businesses in a bid to prevent wildfires.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning that will be in effect until 5 p.m. Friday in the mountains and valleys.

Sustained winds of 25 to 35 mph are expected, but gusts could reach 65 mph near mountain ridge tops and 75 mph at Sill Hill. Daytime humidity could drop as low as 5%.

High temperatures Friday could reach 90 degrees near the coast, 98 inland, 99 in the western valleys, 92 near the foothills, 80 in the mountains and 90 in the deserts.

The NWS also issued a high wind warning that will be in effect in the county mountains and valleys until 2 p.m. Friday. Officials warned that damaging winds could blow down trees and power lines, while travel will be especially difficult for high-profile vehicles.

A heat advisory will be in effect until 5 p.m. Friday in coastal areas and the inland valleys.

The strong winds will continue through Friday afternoon, then begin subsiding, forecasters said.

The predicted Santa Ana winds initially prompted San Diego Gas & Electric to notify roughly 24,000 customers of potential power shutoffs for safety reasons, but as of 7 a.m. Friday that number had increased to just over 47,500.

As of 7:20 a.m., 18,721 addresses were without power due to the pre- emptive outages in Alpine, Boulevard, Campo. Cuyamaca, Descanso, Dulzura, Guatay, Jacumba, Julian, Pauma Valley, Pine Valley, Potrero, Poway, Ramona, Santa Ysabel and Valley Center, SDG&E reported.

Areas that could also be affected included Barona, Barrett Lake, Black Mountain Ranch, Coronado Hills, Elfin Forest, Lake Hodges, Mesa Grande, Mount Laguna, Olivenhain, Palomar Mountain, the western portion of Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos, Shelter Valley, Viejas and Warner Springs.

The San Diego County Office of Education shuttered schools in the Mountain Empire Unified School District, Warner Unified School District and all schools in Julian because of the precautionary power shutoffs.

SDG&E will open eight community resource centers from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the duration of any potential outages. The centers will be available for residents to get water and snacks, charge their phones and get updated information on the outages.

A full list of the centers can be found at: https://www.sdge.com/wildfire-safety/public-safety-power-shutoffs.

Updated at 10:43 a.m. Oct. 25, 2019

–City News Service

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