Fire Threat Prompts More Blackouts in Calif.; 375K to Lose Power - NBC Southern California
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Fire Threat Prompts More Blackouts in Calif.; 375K to Lose Power

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    NEWSLETTERS

    PG&E Removes More Areas From Midweek Power Shutoff

    PG&E continues to downsize the scope of its latest round of proactive power shutoffs as weather conditions improved Wednesday. Jodi Hernandez reports. (Published Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019)

    PG&E continues to downsize the scope of its latest round of proactive power shutoffs as weather conditions improved Wednesday.

    The utility said in a statement about 50,000 customers or about 120,000 people in 11 counties lost electricity Wednesday.

    PG&E in the afternoon announced it would no longer implement outages in El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sierra, Yuba and west Sonoma County. The reduced power shutoff plan comes a day after PG&E removed six Bay Area counties from its Public Safety Power Shutoff plan.

    PG&E's initial plan Monday warned over 300,000 customers across 25 counties of another round of possible outages to prevent power lines from sparking wildfires as the region faced a new bout of high fire danger.

    On Wednesday, some people in the wine country counties of Napa and Sonoma lost power at about 7 a.m. Power was also cut farther north in portions of Mendocino, Lake and Yolo counties, said Katie Allen, a PG&E spokeswoman.

    The shutoffs could affect more people as the outages spread to other counties and last into Thursday, PG&E said.

    A virtually rainless fall has left brush bone-dry and forecasts called for low humidity and winds gusting at times to 55 mph, which might fling tree branches or other debris into power lines, causing sparks that could set catastrophic fires in the region, PG&E officials said.

    "This lack of rain is keeping the threat of fire very real, this late in the season, in many areas," said Scott Strenfel, PG&E's principal meteorologist

    Areas Affected by the Nov. 20 Public Safety Power Shutoff

    All area outlines are approximate. For the most accurate information for your address, use the address lookup tool.

    Updated: Nov. 20, 2019, 7:25 a.m.
    Source: PG&E

    Here's a breakdown of the shutoffs in the Bay Area, per PG&E's latest update (11 a.m. Wednesday):

    • Napa County: 10,569 customers in Angwin, Calistoga, Deer Park, Lake Berryessa, Napa, Oakville, Pope Valley, Rutherford, Saint Helena, Suisun City, Yountville.
    • Solano County: 81 customers in Vacaville and Suisun City.
    • Sonoma County: 17,827 customers in Calistoga, Camp Meeker, Cazadero, Cloverdale, Duncans Mills, Forestville, Geyserville, Glen Ellen, Guerneville, Healdsburg, Jenner, Kenwood, Monte Rio, Occidental, Rio Nido, Saint Helena, Santa Rosa, Sebastapol, Sonoma, Villa Grande, Windsor.

    The state's largest utility decreased the number of people who could be affected from an original estimate of about 660,000 based on updated forecasts and some juggling of its power system. The utility said it will closely monitor the weather and could further reduce that number if it improves.

    The Sonoma County Office of Education announced Tuesday a handful of school districts would be closing schools or revising their schedules.

    The National Weather Service this week issued a red flag warning for Wednesday morning through Thursday morning in the North Bay mountains, East Bay hills and the Diablo Range.

    The weather service is forecasting north to northeast winds of 20-30 mph, with gusts up to 35-45 mph in those areas. Isolated gusts on some peaks could reach up to 60 mph, the NWS said.

    The winds combined with humidity levels dropping to 10% to 20% in some of those areas increases the fire danger, and any fires that develop could spread quickly, the weather service said.

    The weather should ease by Thursday morning, allowing PG&E to begin restoring power, said Mark Quinlan, PG&E's senior director of emergency preparedness and response.

    The planned blackout would be the latest in a series of massive outages by the country's largest utility, including one last month that affected nearly 2.5 million people and outraged local officials and customers who accused the utility of overkill and using blackouts as a crutch because it failed to harden its equipment to withstand fire weather.

    For the latest updates on PG&E's power shutoffs, go to the company website.