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Extreme conditions drive Southern California’s fire risk even higher

A new fire is burning Wednesday in California’s Simi Valley. With winds gusting to 80 miles per hour, the National Weather Service issued a rarely used warning of extreme fire danger in the southern part of the state. In Northern California, meanwhile, both the Kincade Fire and the proactive power outages by PG&E continued, as residents strive to adapt to the disruptions. Stephanie Sy reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    There is no rest for the wildfire-weary in Southern California.

    A fire that exploded to life before dawn threatened thousands of homes today and a presidential landmark.

    Stephanie Sy begins our coverage.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    A new day, a new fire outside Los Angeles, this time in Simi Valley, where winds of 70 miles an hour fanned the flames toward the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Smoke surrounded the site, but the center escaped damage.

    Whole neighborhoods spent anxious hours watching the fire's march across dry hillsides, as helicopters and tanker planes dumped water and chemicals to slow the fire. Firefighters had sounded the alarm overnight.

  • Jaime Moore:

    The worst winds that Los Angeles has seen in the last two to three years.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Indeed, the National Weather Service issued rarely used extreme red flag warnings, signaling severe fire danger over wide stretches of the state.

    In Northern California's wine country, the Kincade Fire continues to burn. Trees across Sonoma County were painted red with fire retardant yesterday. And by this morning, power blackouts remained in effect for hundreds of thousands of PG&E customers in the north. Officials said some of the blackouts could last for days.

    Some of those forced to evacuate or coping with no electricity say they're becoming habituated to the havoc.

  • Nick Stauer:

    I hate to say it. We're experienced.

  • Woman:

    Yes, hate to say that.

  • Nick Stauer:

    You shouldn't be experienced in something like this.

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom:

    Enough is enough.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    But Governor Gavin Newsom insisted today that blackouts must be short-term.

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom:

    We will make sure that there are brighter days in the future. We, I assure you, are not allowing any of this to be the new normal. And this will not take 10 years to fix. I can promise you that.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    The dangerous winds are expected to calm by tomorrow, but the tinder-dry conditions will last for the foreseeable future.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Stephanie Sy.

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