Santa Ana Winds Topple Trees & Trucks, Fuel Brush Fires

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LOS ANGELES — California winds that overturned trucks, toppled trees and fanned fires were dying down Friday and forecasters predicted calmer weather for the Christmas weekend.

High wind advisories for gusts of 45 mph in mountains, valleys and coastal areas remained in effect through Saturday morning.

Freeze warnings also remained in effect for much of Central California because of low overnight temperatures, a sharp contrast to daytime temperatures in the 70s forecast for parts of the region on Christmas Day.

Winds gusting to 70 mph or more on Thursday knocked down power lines, trees and big-rig trucks, although it was nothing close to the widespread damage that Southern California suffered during a hurricane-force windstorm on Nov. 30.

High winds did fan a small rural brushfire in Ventura County. The 60-acre blaze Thursday near Santa Paula burned some avocado trees but no homes were threatened and it was fully contained Friday, county fire Capt. Ron Oatman said.

One firefighter received a minor leg injury fighting the blaze, and crews Friday were busy snuffing out every last spark because of the continuing concern about wind gusts.

"Until it's completely mopped up, those embers can still blow," Oatman said. "We're going to treat it like it's mid-summer."

In Northern California on Thursday, winds pushed two unusual winter wildfires in the Sierra Nevada and a blaze that burned four buildings near San Francisco's historic Alamo Square, including an apartment building. The fire displaced dozens of people and caused several minor injuries.

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