Santa Anas National Weather Service
A local red-flag weather alert remains in effect through Saturday. Photo credit: @NWSSanDiego, via Twitter

Extreme fire danger will continue throughout the San Diego region for a third day Friday as gusty Santa Ana winds and low humidity combine to heighten wildfire risk.

The National Weather Service has issued a “red flag” wildfire alert for local inland valley and highland areas, effective through 10 p.m. Saturday.

The most intensive critical fire-weather conditions are expected to last into Friday, meteorologists advised.

In response to the extremely arid and windy conditions, San Diego Gas & Electric shut off power Thursday to 70,613 addresses in particularly at-risk inland communities due to fire hazards posed by transmission equipment.

By the early evening, improving weather had allowed SDG&E to reduce that number to 58,401. Another 36,753 customers, though, remained on notice for potential power-downs, the utility reported.

Because of the planned power outages, schools in some North and East County districts closed.

Closures will continue on Friday, for campuses in the following school districts: Alpine Union, Dehesa, Valley Center-Pauma Unified and Warner Unified, according to the San Diego County Office of Education.

In addition, the following individual schools also will be closed for the day: Jamacha Elementary, Eucalyptus Hills and Lakeside Farms.

Forecasters expect the dry and windy weather to continue into next week, though it likely will be less intense.

Firefighters faced a serious East County blaze due to the conditions. They gained full control of the brush fire that broke out in the unincorporated Rancho San Diego area near El Cajon by Thursday evening.

– City News Service