LOS ANGELES - Small fires broke out across Southern California on Saturday amid hot, windy conditions, causing a key freeway junction north of Los Angeles to shut down for 90 minutes and damaging homes in Orange County.
Arcing power lines, many hit by tree branches, sparked a rash of small blazes that singed the exterior of a handful of homes near Tustin in the morning, Capt. Steve Concialdi, an Orange County Fire Authority spokesman, told City News Service.
Later that day in the Los Angeles area, three fire agencies using bulldozers, air support and ground crews battled a 15-acre blaze that started on a hillside north of the junction of Interstate 5 and state Route 14 in the Newhall Pass. The freeways were closed to traffic in all directions for 90 minutes, according to City News Service.
Wind gusts of 65 mph were reported at 1:30 p.m., 5 miles southeast of the fire. The freeways were reopened at 2:15 p.m.
Hot, dry Santa Ana winds buffeted the mountain and foothill areas, raising fire danger in the parched region. Gusts topped 90 mph at Laguna Peak, just west of Malibu.
Red flag fire danger alerts were posted for much of Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, as well as other areas. The alerts were to remain in effect until Sunday, although winds were diminishing late Saturday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.
State fire crews also were helping the military battle a blaze Saturday on the Marine Corps' Camp Pendleton, sending smoke across northern San Diego County.
The weather service called the situation the region's "most significant fire weather threat in the past five years." Temperatures were unseasonably high, reaching in the 90s in many coastal communities.