U.S. News

High winds lash Southern California

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - High winds on Thursday brought down trees and power lines and whipped up brush fires that burned three multimillion-dollar homes in Southern California.

Winds gusting up to 50 mph (80 kph) blew embers onto rooftops and sent flames roaring through tinder-dry brush in the posh Los Angeles neighborhood of Beverly Glen, causing residents to flee, fire officials said.

Three homes were destroyed or damaged before the blaze was knocked down. No injuries were reported.

In Orange County to the south, fire came within 150 yards

of homes in Brea before being quenched by water-dropping helicopters.

The winds knocked out electricity to some 150,000 people in Los Angeles County, utility companies said. Surfers meanwhile enjoyed waves up to 8 feet high off the Pacific coast.

Elsewhere, trees were blown down onto freeways and at least one roof was blown off an apartment building in West Hollywood.

Forecasters expected the high winds from the north to last until late Thursday evening.

Southern California has seen little rain over the past year, producing drought conditions and dozens of dangerous brush fires months before the official June start of the fire season.