Red Flag Warning Takes Effect in Malibu, Power Shut-Offs Possible

Southern California Edison

With a fire weather forecast including high winds and dry conditions this week, Southern California Edison on Tuesday evening indicated areas of Malibu could be subject to a public safety power shutoff (PSPS) between Thursday, Oct. 10, at 9 p.m. and Friday, Oct. 11, at 9 p.m.

The PSPS warning is part of a new program by the utility company aimed at preventing fires caused by downed power lines; however, the practice is controversial in Malibu where infrastructure such as traffic signals and cell towers, as well as many medical devices and other necessary equipment, are powered by electricity from SCE.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has forecasted high winds beginning Wednesday, Oct. 9, through Friday afternoon. Sustained wind speeds were expected to reach 35 to 45 mph, gusting up to 70 mph in the LA County mountains, including west of the Santa Monica Mountains. According to the report, winds could blow down trees and damage power lines; widespread power outages are possible. 

The NWS has issued a red flag warning in the Santa Monica Mountains for wind and low relative humidity, which goes into effect from Thursday at 3 a.m. until Friday at 6 p.m. 

In preparation, NWS recommends taking precautionary steps such as fastening loose objects or sheltering in a safe location prior to the onset of winds. 

If fire ignition occurs, conditions may be favorable for extreme fire behavior, which would be life and property threatening.

A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly. A combination of strong winds and low relative humidity can contribute to extreme fire behavior. NWS recommends using potential fire ignition sources with extreme caution.

In efforts to prepare, the City of Malibu fire safety liaison has been working with community members to assess household wildfire risk and help residents and groups harden their homes against flying embers, which are a main cause of homes catching fire during a wildfire.