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Cold Front Whips Up Winds and Havoc : Weather: Icy gusts damage property, down power lines and fan a brush fire.


Trees were felled, wires were downed and roofs were lifted from their rafters Wednesday as high winds blasted Southern California in the wake of a cold front and scattered showers.

The winds, which gusted as high as 50 m.p.h. at Edwards Air Force Base, did not cause any reported injuries, officials said. But they did wreak havoc on property and utilities and made the winter fire season a little tougher for fire crews.

In Vernon, a 25 m.p.h.-plus gust yanked chunks of a roof from an industrial warehouse on Fruitland Avenue, then dropped them on a stretch of nearby parked cars, fire officials said.

James Smith, a Vernon Fire Department battalion chief, said the damage to the cars was minor but that fire crews stayed busy for much of the afternoon cleaning up the debris.

In Hacienda Heights, Los Angeles County firefighters battled a 10-acre brush fire fanned by the high winds. Fire Inspector Brian Jordan said the blaze, at Colima Road and Casino Drive, was extinguished in about half an hour with the help of one of the county's on-loan Super Scooper planes. None of the nearby homes was threatened or damaged, he said.

Scattered power outages were reported across the county as wires were blown down in Hollywood, Downtown Los Angeles, South-Central, El Sereno, Eagle Rock, Long Beach and Santa Fe Springs.

Bernard Peters, a spokesman for Southern California Edison, said about 1,300 customers in Long Beach were without power for three hours Wednesday afternoon, and a second outage affected hundreds of residents during the evening in Santa Fe Springs. County fire crews also reported dozens of downed power lines in the areas surrounding Whittier and Hacienda Heights.

Karen Denne, spokeswoman for the Department of Water and Power, said about 8,000 Los Angeles customers in about a dozen neighborhoods were left without electricity for at least part of Wednesday evening.

Denne added that the outages were "all in small pockets," and were expected to be corrected by midnight.

In Orange County, winds knocked down an abandoned bar in Placentia and whipped a small brush fire in Brea Canyon, county fire dispatchers said. The fire, which broke out just after noon near Tonner Road and the Orange Freeway, prompted the brief closure of the northbound Tonner Road off-ramp before it was extinguished. Fire officials said a downed power line might have set off the blaze.

Elsewhere in the region, wind advisories continued during the night for desert and mountain regions. Warnings were particularly aimed at the Mojave Desert, where drivers were advised to look out for dust storms and powerful gusts. Peters of Southern California Edison said one gust in Palm Springs downed enough power lines to knock out power to 1,300 customers, including the Marquis Hotel and the Fashion Plaza Mall.

Curtis Brack, meteorologist for WeatherData Inc., said the winds were not the usual Santa Anas common in Southern California. Rather, he said, they were the aftermath of a cold front that moved through Wednesday morning, dampening the area with scattered pre-dawn rain.

Brack said the winds also were fueled by the jet stream flowing over Southern California's upper atmosphere. The gusts were expected to die down by midday today in most areas, although the mountains and high deserts will still be fairly windy, Brack said.

Skies in the Los Angeles area, he said, will be mostly sunny Thursday with highs in the upper 50s and low 60s.

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