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Strong Winds Whip Up Fires in Riverside County

December 24, 1993| From Times Wire Services

Strong, gusty winds whipped up dirt, garbage and tumbleweeds in canyons and along passes in Southern California on Thursday, and fanned several small fires in Riverside County.

Northeast winds of 30 m.p.h. to 35 m.p.h. and gusts of up to 75 m.p.h. created a challenge for drivers in Riverside and San Bernardino counties and the northern deserts. Wind speeds were expected to hover around 35 m.p.h. in most areas around Los Angeles through Friday morning, the National Weather Service said.

In Rancho Cucamonga and Chino, telephone poles toppled over, while in the San Fernando Valley community of Chatsworth, an 18-wheeler was blown on its side, clogging traffic for two hours Thursday morning.

About 17,000 Southern California Edison customers lost power during the day. As of 4 p.m., 3,000 were still without service, company spokesman Steve Hansen said. Most of those affected were in the Ontario, Fontana and San Jacinto areas, as well a few in central and northern Orange County, he said.

In Palm Springs, a brush fire destroyed 11 apartments and damaged three more in the southern part of the city, Palm Springs Fire Engineer Dave Rees said. Preliminary damage was estimated to be $500,000. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. No injuries were reported.

Rees said Palm Springs firefighters who live in the Banning and Beaumont areas "could barely get to work."

A vegetation fire charred 300 acres in the Lake Matthews area, said Capt. Richard Egerman of the Riverside County Fire Department/California Department of Forestry.

In San Bernardino and Riverside counties, the California Highway Patrol issued wind advisories along freeways around Ontario, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga and Beaumont.

In Newhall and the Antelope Valley, the CHP was keeping trailers and campers off some roads.

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