More than a million people are expected to lose power as regional utilities cuts power to portions of California due to a fire weather threat.
In northern and central California, PG&E has cut power to many customers already ahead of the strong wind arrival. At least 186,000 PG&E customers are currently without power in the North Bay area, including Marin, Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake countie, with another 800,000 customers across Northern and Central California expected to be cut-off later today. PG&E says they will initiate a second de-energizing phase later this afternoon to another 300,000 customers, including Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz counties. A third phase is being considered for the southernmost portions of PG&E’s service area, impacting approximately 42,000 customers.
Southern California is also impacted by the fire weather threat. Southern California Edison is planning power outages in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, Ventura counties as well as Inyo, Kern and Mono counties; based on the utility this morning, the total count of customers that could be impacted stood at 173,942.
The utilities are turning off power based on forecasts of dry, hot, windy weather which creates fire weather conditions. Wind could knock wires down or trees and branches into wires, sparking up wildfires in the process. A weather system moving into California will help kick-up strong and gusty winds, with some 60-70 mph winds possible in the higher elevations of the state.
Schools, stores, and business including gas stations and banks, are closed due to the power outage and could remain closed for much of the week.
Last spring, fire officials concluded that equipment operated by PG&E caused the most destructive wildfire in California’s history last November: the Camp Fire of 2018. That fire killed 85 people, left several firefighters injured, and destroyed more than 150,000 acres across portions of northern California. Investigators determined that PG&E-controlled electrical transmission lines near the community of Pulga, located nearly 100 miles north of Sacramento, sparked the fire. Dry vegetation, strong winds and low humidity created a perfect fire weather scenario, creating a fast-moving conflagration that burned through the communities of Concow, Paradise and Magalia.