Wildfire safety blackouts in California by PG&E could leave homes without power till Friday

A return of bone-dry humidity and gusty winds Wednesday in Northern Calfornia during the peak of wildfire season is expected to result in power outages for tens of thousands of customers that could last until Friday.

The nation’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), warned it may begin power shutoffs by Wednesday evening to as many as 54,000 customers in 24 counties.

“We really view it as a last resort option,” Mark Quinlan, the company’s incident commander, said at a briefing on Tuesday.


Wind gusts possibly hitting 55 mph have spurred the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue a red-flag warning from 5 a.m. Wednesday through Friday morning.

While PG&E said it will make a final decision sometime on Wednesday morning whether to implement the pre-emptive electricity cuts, it advised that it began its one-day advance notifications to customers.

Customers in portions of the following counties are being notified of potential shutoffs: Alameda, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Humboldt, Lake, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo and Yuba.

The Public Safety Power Shutoff is an effort by the utility to prevent fires from being started by damaged power lines fouled or knocked down in high winds. The utility also has deployed generators and other measures to keep electricity flowing in some areas that might otherwise have lost power during the outages, according to Quinlan.

If the forecast unfolds as planned, there will be two main waves of when customers lose electricity.


About 33,000 homes and

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Potential PG&E blackouts could leave California homes without power until Friday

A dangerous combination of fast winds and low humidity at the height of fire season is expected to prompt power outages for tens of thousands of Northern California homes and businesses starting Wednesday and lasting potentially into Friday.

a tree with a mountain in the background: PG&E apprentice Oscar Rodulfo works to restore power along Los Alamos Rd. in Santa Rosa, Calif., on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. Customers throughout the region could face power shutoffs later this week as red flag fire warnings take effect.

© Noah Berger / Special To The Chronicle

PG&E apprentice Oscar Rodulfo works to restore power along Los Alamos Rd. in Santa Rosa, Calif., on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. Customers throughout the region could face power shutoffs later this week as red flag fire warnings take effect.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has warned that about 54,000 customers in portions of 24 counties, including most Bay Area counties, will likely face preemptive electricity cuts intended to prevent wildfires caused by wind-damaged power lines.

Generators and other measures deployed by PG&E should keep the lights on for about 12,000 customers that would have otherwise lost power, according to Mark Quinlan, the company’s incident commander.

PG&E officials did not expect to make a final call about shutting off power lines until Wednesday morning. But if the forecast materializes as expected, electricity will go out mainly in two waves later that day, with a third possible on Thursday.

The shut-offs were expected to begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday for 33,000 homes and businesses, primarily in the North Bay and northern Sierra Nevada foothills. Two hours later, the outages would move further south into the Sierras as well as targeted spots in the East Bay, South Bay, Peninsula and Central Coast.

Limited areas of Humboldt and Trinity counties could lose power late Thursday afternoon as the second of two rounds of anticipated Diablo winds blow through, PG&E said.

Electric service should be restored for everyone no later than Friday at 10 p.m. But company officials said they would look for opportunities to turn some lines back

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Fewer homes threatened, containment increases, PG&E rebuilding power lines

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a car parked in a parking lot: Cars burned down along Ono Road on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 27, 2020.

© Hung T. Vu/Special to the Record Searchlight
Cars burned down along Ono Road on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 27, 2020.

With little growth since Thursday night, firefighters were able to get more control lines around the Zogg Fire, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported Friday.

Only 101 structures are now under threat by the Zogg Fire, down from the 1,538 structures that were in peril at the blaze’s peak.

The fire, which started Sunday afternoon, is 56% contained after growing on Friday night to 56,168 acres — a gain of only 365 acres from Thursday night.

Cal Fire released the following new figures:

  • The number of structures destroyed rose to 170, up from the 153 reported Friday morning. The number of structures damaged rose to 23 from 21.

Also, power company PG&E announced that its crews have been rebuilding poles and power lines since Tuesday as they get access to more sections within the Zogg Fire evacuation and burn areas. 

Work to remove fire-damaged hazard trees and rebuild the electric infrastructure will continue through the weekend.

Much of the containment growth around the fire, as of Friday morning, happened in the south in the Highway 36 corridor in the area of Tehama County, Cal Fire said.

The north portion of the fire on Friday morning was still burning. It includes west of Clear Creek, according to a map released by Cal Fire on Friday morning. Firefighters, though, have managed to keep the fire from crossing the creek and into more populated areas west of Redding.

Cal Fire officials at their Friday press briefing announced that more residents

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PG&E prepares to cut power to nearly 100,000 homes in California

a plane flying in the air with smoke coming out of it: MailOnline logo

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Pacific Gas & Electric warned they may have to cut power to almost 100,000 homes in Northern California with strong winds and warm temperatures creating a risk of new wildfires. 

Company officials made the announcement on Friday, saying that ‘hot and dry conditions, combined with expected high wind gusts, pose an increased risk for damage to the electric system that has the potential to ignite fires in areas with dry vegetation.’ 

PG&E say power may be shut off to up to 97,000 customers in 16 counties between Sunday morning and Monday, according to The Los Angeles Times.  

PG&E fear strong winds could down power lines and spark new blazes across the weekend

© Provided by Daily Mail
PG&E fear strong winds could down power lines and spark new blazes across the weekend

Counties which could be affected include Napa, northeast of San Francisco.  


Load Error

When heavy winds were predicted earlier this month, PG&E cut power to about 167,000 homes and businesses in central and Northern California in a more targeted approach after being criticized last year for acting too broadly when it blacked out 2 million customers to prevent fires.

PG&E equipment has sparked past large wildfires, including the 2018 fire that destroyed much of the Sierra foothills town of Paradise and killed 85 people.

This year, Northern California has been battling through the worst wildfire season on record. 

The North Complex Fire has torched more than 304,000 acres and is 78 percent contained. At least 15 people have died after being caught up in the inferno. 

The August Complex Fire has burned through a whopping 867,000 acres and is only 38 percent contained. One firefighter was killed while working to train and contain that blaze.

Wildfires aren’t the only reason why California residents have been experiencing deliberate power outages in recent months. 

Back in August, PG&E

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