More Than 1 Million Californians Could Lose Power Due to Wildfire Threat

Thursday, 10 Oct, 2019

Much of northern California is facing life without electricity or gas for as many as five to seven days on Wednesday, after the country's largest utility company cut power to an unprecedented swath of the state as a preventive measure against wildfires.

An estimate of about 800,000 customers will be affected by the power outages that can last up to 48 hours. Generator safety tips can be found here.Power will remain off until weather conditions improve and it is safe to restore service.We will continue to monitor conditions and will contact you with further updates.In most cases, we would expect to be able to restore power within 24 to 48 hours after weather has passed.Depending on weather conditions or if any repairs are needed, outages (weather event plus restoration time) could last longer than 48 hours.For planning purposes, we suggest preparing for multiple-day outages.If you see a downed power line, assume it is energized and extremely risky and report it immediately by calling 911.

An additional 234,00 customer were due to have their power cut around around noon Wednesday in the areas of Alameda, Alpine, Contra Costa, Mariposa, San Joaquin, San Mateo and Santa Clara.

"No one is happy about it, no one is satisfied, but no one should be surprised, because we have been anticipating this moment for a year", Newsom said.

James Cooke is shown buying water bottles along with propane tanks and batteries at a ACE Hardware store as he prepares for a possible power shutdown in Los Gatos, Calif., on October 8, 2019.

Power company officials say that the outages will begin in the northern sections of the state, and trickle down into central and coastal sections of California.

Jennifer Siemens, who lost her home in Paradise, rents a house in the nearby town of Oroville and said she is bracing for a third blackout in a month.

Siemens had her vehicle gassed up, had stocked up on bottled water and flashlights and made sure all the family's electronic devices were fully charged. "We understand and appreciate that turning off the power affects first responders and the operation of critical facilities, communications systems and much more". Select stations reliant on portable generators may face escalator outages.

The first phase began just after midnight local time, impacting almost 513,000 customers, PG&E said.

Customers notified of a #PSPS may be affected by a power shutoff even if they are not experiencing extreme weather conditions in their location bc the electric system relies on power lines working together to provide electricity across regions. California's transportation agency said it was preparing to close two major tunnels in the region due to the loss of power.

"It may be the strongest offshore winds event since the October 2017 North Bay fires". "Residents need to be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice in the event of a wildfire".

Despite the fact that the extreme fire risk is only forecast to last through Thursday afternoon, residents are being asked to prepare "for an extended outage". The cutoffs will begin just after midnight and will come in stages, starting in the northern part of the state when winds are forecast to pick up.

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

"In Northern California, the big fire concern is when we see what we're going to see midweek, " said Cory Mueller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

At the Dollar General store in Paradise, people were buying candles, gas cans, ice, flashlights, batteries and canned food and the store ran out of ice chests Tuesday morning, said manager Ben Humphries. This means doing regular safety checks and being sure you have enough fuel to last a few days.

The deadliest fire in California's history, the Camp Fire in November 2018, was caused by PG&E's transmission lines, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) determined in May this year.