SAN ANTONIO -

High winds that blew through Bexar County on Monday kicked up huge dust clouds and knocked down trees and power lines around the area.

The wind is also being blamed for facilitating brush and grass fires in the area and fuel house fires that resulted in the deaths of several people, county officials report.

The upper level of Interstate 35 was closed Monday afternoon in both directions near the McCullough exit downtown for several hours due to a leaning power pole. By 6 p.m., the interstate had re-opened.

CPS Energy's outage map indicated there were several large areas in San Antonio affected by downed or strained lines.

"We've seen over 30,000 customers affected by the winds today in San Antonio," said CPS Energy spokeswoman Yvonne Casanova. "Our crews are out in the field trying to get everyone restored as quickly as possible. We do recommend that if anyone sees down power lines that they do not touch them."

She said if people see downed power lines, they should stay away from them and contact CPS Energy.

"Power lines might sometimes be live if they aren't disconnected on the other side," she said. "They might see a power line but it might still be live connected somewhere else so we don't anybody to touch that power line. Sometimes people feel if they fall on their cars, they want to remove them. Again, please do not do that and call CPS Energy and we'll take care of it."

She said the number to call 353-4357.

The outages caused problems at the Quarry Market, where stores were unable to conduct business for about an hour until power was restored. Judson High School also reported no electricity. Judson ISD spokesman Steve Linscomb said that the school was using backup power for essentials and instruction and lunches were continuing on as "normal as possible."

High winds fuel grass fires

The gusty winds also fueled numerous grass fires, including one on a grassy median at Highway 90 and Cupples Road that backed up traffic.

Another grass fire in South Bexar County prompted the evacuation of several homes near the intersection of Peaceful Lane and Pleasanton Road near the Bexar and Atascosa county lines.

One viewer sent in a picture of a traffic light that she said had blown off its line at Callaghan and Ingram Road.

Other reports indicated that the high winds knocked over power lines near Culebra Road and Pipers Creek. Two lines started drooping and that led to wires hanging very low over the road -- to the point where certain trucks were not able to get through -- so they closed the road down temporarily to keep drivers safe.

Another viewer sent in pictures of billowing dust clouds that rolled through Uvalde Monday morning.

'Red Flag' warning in effect

A red flag warning for much of South Texas that is in effect until 7 p.m. and a wind advisory has been put in place until 10 p.m.

Wind gusts have been reported as high as 40 mph in town and 50 mph to the west and northwest.

The winds are following a front that blew through San Antonio early Monday morning, sweeping away residual atmospheric moisture and humidity leftover from the weekend.

Refresh this page for more from the KSAT 12 weather team, Your Weather Authority, and the news team as we keep you updated on these developing conditions.

Images: High winds wreak havoc

Published On: Feb 25 2013 11:44:10 AM CST   Updated On: Feb 25 2013 11:40:26 AM CST

Gusty winds are blowing things all over the place in the San Antonio area.

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House fire in 8000 block of Pearsall Road