New fire threatens Reagan library in 'extreme red flag' CA emergency

A large new wildfire broke out in Southern California amid high winds Wednesday, forcing the evacuation of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and nearby homes, as both ends of the state struggled with blazes, dangerously gusty weather and deliberate blackouts.

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The brush fire started just before dawn in the Simi Valley area north of Los Angeles. Ventura County officials did not immediately say how big it was or how many people were ordered to leave.

Reagan library spokeswoman Melissa Giller said the hilltop museum in Simi Valley was safe and being protected by firefighters. She said hundreds of goats are brought in each year to eat away vegetation that could fuel wildfires on the 300-acre (120-hectare) grounds.

Pacific Gas & Electric said Tuesday's blackouts would affect about 1.5 million people in some 30 counties including the Sierra foothills, wine country and San Francisco Bay Area. They included 1 million still without power from a shut-off over the weekend.

The National Weather Service issued extreme red flag warnings in Northern and Southern California, with some wind gusts expected to reach 80 mph. It could be the strongest wind event in years.

Frustration and anger mounted across Northern California as PG&E, the state's largest utility, began its third round of sweeping blackouts in a week aimed at preventing its electrical equipment from being damaged by wind-whipped branches or sparking wildfires. The Kincade fire in Sonoma County has burned 76,138 acres and was 15% contained as of Wednesday morning.

In wine country, firefighters on Tuesday coped with 30-mph wind gusts while tackling a wildfire that has burned 86 homes and charred an area more than twice the size of San Francisco. About 90,000 buildings remained threatened. More than 150,000 people were under evacuation orders.

The public safety power shutoffs today will be felt by 596,000 homes and businesses statewide in portions of 29 counties -- including 267,788 customers in the San Francisco Bay Area. In a tweet on Wednesday, PG&E said that -- as a result of better weather -- the embattled utility will not have to turn power off in the following counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Mateo -- which will reduce the amount of people impacted by yesterday's shutoffs by 30,000.

PG&E's stock surged Wednesday ahead of the opening bell.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
PCGPG & E CORP.6.84-0.25-3.53%

UTILITY WILL CREDIT CUSTOMERS FOR BLACKOUTS, CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR SAYS

Meanwhile, ferocious Santa Ana winds returned to Southern California, where a fire that erupted Monday in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles has destroyed a dozen homes.

The Getty fire was started when a eucalyptus branch was blown into a power line, according to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who called the incident an "act of God." It has burned 656 acres and was 15% contained as of Wednesday morning.

About 9,000 people remained under evacuation orders. Southern California Edison, which had previously made safety shutoffs and then restored power, warned that it could black out more than 300,000 homes and businesses.

PG&E CRASHES AFTER ADMITTING POWER LINE COULD'VE CAUSED CALIFORNIA WINE COUNTRY FIRE

Edison announced Tuesday in a quarterly earnings report that its equipment "likely" caused last year's Woolsey fire, which killed three people and destroyed hundreds of homes in a swatch stretching from north of Los Angeles south through Malibu to the sea.

Basketball star LeBron James, who with his family had to evacuate from their Brentwood home, later sent a taco truck to firefighters -- to give them food as they battle the fire -- as a way of saying thank you for their efforts. Actor John Cena also announced on Twitter that a donation of $500,000 would be going to multiple firefighter foundations as a way of thanking them for their work.

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The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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