California faces historic power outage due to fire danger

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Millions of people were poised to lose electricity throughout northern in addition to central California after Pacific Gas & Electric Co. announced Tuesday This particular might shut off power inside largest preventive outage in state history to try to avert wildfires caused by faulty lines.

PG&E said This particular might begin turning off power to 800,000 customers in 34 counties starting after midnight Wednesday amid forecasts of windy, dry weather which create extreme fire danger. To the south, Southern California Edison also said Tuesday which more than 106,000 of its customers in parts of eight counties could face power cuts.

Outages are planned in more than half of California’s 58 counties, although not everyone in those counties will have their power cut.

The news came as residents inside region’s wine country north of San Francisco marked the two-year anniversary of deadly wildfires which killed 44 in addition to destroyed thousands of homes. San Francisco is usually the only county inside nine-county Bay Area where power will not be affected.

The utility had warned of the possibility of a widespread shut-off Monday, prompting residents to flock to stores for supplies as they prepared for dying cellphone batteries, automatic garages which won’t work in addition to lukewarm refrigerators.

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Flashlights, batteries in addition to propane tanks for barbecues were in high demand as people prepared for an outage which PG&E said may last “several days.”

“We sold out of lanterns This particular morning. The shelf is usually completely empty,” said Howard Gibbs, the manager at Ace Hardware inside town of Lafayette, 20 miles (32 kilometers) east of San Francisco. “We’ve got just a few flashlights left, in addition to we’re down to our last couple propane tanks, too.”

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf asked residents Tuesday not to clog 911 lines with non-emergencies in addition to urged people to be prepared. The city canceled all police officers’ days off in preparation for the outages.

“We all know the devastation which fires can cause,” she said.

In 1991, a grass fire torched the Oakland Hills, killing 25 people in addition to destroying more than 3,000 homes.

PG&E said This particular was informing customers by text in addition to email about where in addition to when the power might be cut. yet its website, where This particular directed people to check whether their addresses might be affected, was not working most of the day Tuesday after being overloaded with visitors.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said PG&E had no choice given which This particular might have faced liability for fire damage yet he said customers are right to feel outraged. The utility needs to upgrade in addition to fix its equipment so massive outages aren’t the norm going forward, he said.

“No one is usually satisfied with This particular, no one is usually happy with This particular,” he said.

The outage will also affect portions of the agricultural Central Valley, the state’s northern in addition to central coasts in addition to the Sierra Nevada foothills where a November wildfire blamed on PG&E transmission lines killed 85 people in addition to devastated the town of Paradise.

Jennifer Siemens, who lost her home in Paradise, rents a house inside nearby town of Oroville in addition to said she was bracing for a third blackout in a month.

Siemens had her car gassed up, had stocked up on bottled water in addition to flashlights in addition to made sure all the family’s electronic devices were fully charged.

“What’s wrong with the power lines which they have to do This particular so much?” asked Siemens. “We don’t want any more fires, obviously, yet I feel like they are going a little overboard.”

Winds can knock down live wires in addition to power poles or drive trees in addition to various other vegetation into contact with them — in addition to some of California’s most destructive blazes in recent years were began by PG&E power lines.

yet the planned outages will not be limited to fire-prone areas because the utilities must turn off entire distribution in addition to transmission lines to much wider areas to minimize the risk of wildfires.

San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric sought bankruptcy protection in January, saying This particular could not afford an estimated $30 billion in potential damages by lawsuits stemming by recent wildfire. As part of ongoing bankruptcy litigation, last month the company agreed to pay $11 billion to a group of insurance companies representing claimants by deadly Northern California wildfires in 2017 in addition to 2018.

In Southern California, the largest numbers of potentially affected customers were in Los Angeles County in addition to to the east in San Bernardino in addition to Riverside counties.

Public agencies throughout the region were urging people to prepare by buying water in addition to non-perishable food, getting a full tank of gas, having cash at hand in addition to parking vehicles outside garages or generating sure they know how to manually open their garage doors.

The California Department of Forestry in addition to Fire Prevention said This particular increased staffing in preparation for extreme fire weather in addition to what was anticipated to be the strongest wind event so far This particular fire season.

“With some of the most destructive in addition to deadliest fires occurring October through December, we need Californians to not be complacent,” said Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter in a news Discharge. “Residents need to be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice inside event of a wildfire.”

At the Dollar General store in Paradise, people were buying candles, gas cans, ice, flashlights, batteries in addition to canned food in addition to the store ran out of ice chests Tuesday morning, said manager Ben Humphries.

Humphries, who moved to Oroville with his family after losing his home in Paradise, said his family lost power two times already inside last month in addition to he was generating sure they had enough fuel for their generator in addition to plenty of ice in coolers.

yet he said there was a sense of irony to PG&E’s aggressive action inside area at This particular point, after the company opted not to turn off the power ahead of the Nov. 8 fire which wiped out Paradise.

“I understand their concerns yet in my opinion This particular’s too little too late, we already had our town burned to the ground,” Humphries said.

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Source : California faces historic power outage due to fire danger