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Winds Kill at Least 8 in Arizona Dust Storm, Cut Off Power Locally

April 10, 1995| From Times staff and wire reports

A dust storm swept up near the Arizona-New Mexico border Sunday, causing a spate of accidents that left eight people dead and at least 20 others injured, officials said.

Six people in a truck and two in a car were killed in wrecks involving 24 vehicles, said Bob Stein, spokesman for the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

In the Southland, meanwhile, strong winds gusting up to 40 m.p.h. knocked out electrical power and hampered a rescue effort.

A Glendale man disappeared Saturday near Venice after a large wave knocked him off his Boogie board, and an elderly woman died in a wind-fed house fire in Pacoima early Sunday.

Near the Van Nuys Airport, more than 600 homes went without power for two hours. Lucia Alvelais, a spokeswoman for the Department of Water and Power, said falling trees and branches hit power lines and downed wires. Wind also snapped branches in South-Central Los Angeles, leaving more than 100 homes without power for a few hours. Power was restored to most homes by noon Sunday.

Close to 900 homes also lost power in Redondo Beach early Sunday, but a spokesman said the outage did not seem to be related to the winds.

A 36-year-old Glendale man was believed to have drowned after being knocked off his Boogie board by a large wave early Saturday evening. Winds impeded efforts to find the man.

Firefighters also fought the strong winds as they tried to put out a blaze in Pacoima early Sunday that killed an 80-year-old woman.

In West Hollywood, high winds ripped loose 10 feet of wooden scaffolding from 100 feet up the side of the Bel Age Hotel on Sunday afternoon. As sheriff's deputies kept the area clear of pedestrians, firefighters worked to remove the loose part of the scaffolding and secure the rest.

In the Arizona accidents, it was not immediately clear if all eight fatalities were the result of the same crash, Stein said.

The dust blown by gusts reaching nearly 50 m.p.h. reduced visibility there to near zero.

The accidents all happened within a few minutes Sunday afternoon along a half-mile stretch of Interstate 10, about 30 miles west of the Arizona-New Mexico border, Stein said. The interstate remained closed late Sunday.

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