Fire danger in California will ramp up on Monday as forecasted strong winds in Southern California, the Bay Area and parts of the Sierra Nevada has utility companies considering turning off electricity for thousands of customers.

The National Weather Service is predicting gusts of up to 60 mph (97 kph) for the San Francisco Bay Area early Monday. The strongest winds will be in the hills but could drop down to lower elevations along the coastline from Sonoma County to San Mateo County.

In the Sierra Nevada and Kern County mountains, a red flag warning will be in place starting at 4 a.m. for an area that includes Kings Canyon National Park, Sequoia National Park and National Forest and Lake Isabella. Sustained winds of up to 25 mph (40 kph) are predicted, with gusts of near 55 mph (89 kph) are possible in higher elevations.

Pacific Gas and Electric said it was considering preemptively shutting off the power for more than 11,800 customers in portions of Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, Tulare and Tuolumne counties starting Monday at 10 p.m.

In Los Angeles, winds are expected to begin late Sunday night and continue through Tuesday evening. The winds should be their strongest Monday afternoon through Tuesday morning, with gusts up to 55 mph (89 kph) for the coastal and valley areas of Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Southern California Edison said it was considering shutting off power for about 161,000 customers on Monday and Tuesday in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Tulare and Kern counties.

Firefighters in Orange County had contained about half of a wildfire on Sunday that has destroyed 28 structures while threatening thousands of homes. Favorable weather conditions allowed firefighters to make progress early Sunday morning. But strong winds expected Monday threaten to further spread the fire.

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By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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