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California Utilities Shut Off Power Amid Wildfire Concerns

Concerned about downed power lines sparking wildfires, two major California utilities for the first time cut power to some customers amid high winds — and another power provider was considering similar action.

Posted: Oct 15, 2018 2:35 PM

By PAUL ELIAS , Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Concerned about downed power lines sparking wildfires, two major California utilities for the first time cut power to some customers amid high winds — and another power provider was considering similar action.

Pacific Gas & Electric began cutting power Sunday night to tens of thousands of customers in Northern California after the National Weather Service warned of extreme fire danger across the state due to high winds, low humidity and dry vegetation.

San Diego Gas & Electric followed suit Monday, turning off power to about 360 customers in foothill areas near Cleveland National Forest, where multiple blazes have scorched large swaths of land in recent years.

Pacific Gas & Electric previously announced its plan to shut off power preemptively after authorities blamed its power lines for sparking some of California's most destructive wildfires.

The utility expects to pay billions of dollars in wildfire damages and has sought ways to limit its liability through the courts and Legislature.

PG&E said about 87,000 customers had their power halted and more could be left in the dark depending on the weather. Some 60,000 customers remained without power. Schools in those affected areas canceled classes.

PG&E said it expected to restore power Monday night to most customers — though some residents won't get electricity back until Tuesday.

"We know how much our customers rely on electric service, and we have made the decision to turn off power as a last resort given the extreme fire danger conditions these communities are experiencing," PG&E spokesman Pat Hogan said.

PG&E said it began notifying affected customers on Saturday about possible outages. However, many said Monday they had received little or no notice.

Stewart Munnerlyn was scrambling to find generators to save $8,000 worth of ice cream at his creamery shop in Pine Grove, about 55 miles (89 kilometers) east of Sacramento. Munnerlyn said he is in Virginia visiting a sick relative and received three text messages Sunday night from PG&E saying it might cut power, but he didn't know it actually happened until a friend called him.

"They knew what they were going to do obviously," Munnerlyn said. "We weren't given enough notice to properly prepare."

PG&E spokeswoman Melissa Subottin said power was also cut to hospitals and other medical providers that are required to have backup power sources. PG&E officials visited 4,400 medical customers in the affected areas to personally warn them of the outages, she said.

The weather service predicted winds gusting to 55 mph (89 kph) in the Sierra foothills east of Sacramento. High winds were also expected in the state's wine country north of San Francisco.

Southern California Edison said it was considering shutting off power to an undetermined number of customers. Strong wind gusts swept across the region with the arrival of the first fall Santa Ana winds — hot, sustained gusts that blow from the desert to the ocean.

A motorist in the Orange County city of Tustin was killed when a eucalyptus tree fell on her car in an apartment complex. The victim was 34. No further details were released.

Southern California Edison spokesman David Song said about 32,000 of its 5 million customers were experiencing power outages, but no shutdowns had been ordered by the utility. Song said Edison was investigating the cause of those outages.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 9636

Reported Deaths: 209
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Multnomah236169
Marion159547
Washington149120
Clackamas79524
Umatilla6674
Union3551
Lincoln3452
Deschutes2010
Lane1963
Malheur1601
Linn1569
Polk15412
Jackson1400
Yamhill1328
Jefferson1310
Klamath1251
Benton915
Hood River880
Wasco851
Morrow821
Clatsop490
Douglas450
Josephine441
Coos420
Columbia350
Lake200
Tillamook130
Crook120
Wallowa100
Curry80
Baker40
Sherman20
Grant10
Harney10
Gilliam00
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 250514

Reported Deaths: 6315
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1078063457
Riverside19450479
Orange15778360
San Diego15696387
San Bernardino13676269
Imperial6979105
Alameda6472140
Fresno562677
Kern510080
Santa Clara4849160
Tulare4627136
San Joaquin447455
San Francisco377650
Sacramento355969
San Mateo3441108
Contra Costa343279
Santa Barbara326129
Ventura324047
Marin271019
Kings258332
Stanislaus239144
Monterey179115
Solano147625
Merced127211
Sonoma126710
Placer78611
San Luis Obispo7012
Yolo58324
Madera5665
Santa Cruz4173
Napa3444
San Benito2572
Lassen2340
Butte2063
El Dorado2060
Sutter2063
Humboldt1444
Shasta1354
Nevada1231
Glenn1220
Yuba1031
Tehama881
Lake850
Mendocino850
Colusa700
Calaveras530
Del Norte511
Tuolumne430
Mono411
Inyo331
Siskiyou310
Mariposa271
Amador260
Plumas110
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
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