Nearly 100,000 Pacific Gas and Electric customers may lose power over fire danger in California ahead of a weekend that could bring record-breaking heat.
PG&E says it’s planning to shut off power starting Sunday morning to prevent electrical equipment from sparking a wildfire as strong winds and high temperatures are expected. Power may not return until Monday.
Firefighters throughout the state are still battling 25 major wildfires, some of which have been burning for more than a month. About six counties currently face evacuation orders in the historic fire season that has claimed more than two dozen lives and scorched millions of acres.
The potential power shutoffs will affect about 96,876 customers and include counties in the San Francisco Bay Area. Approximately 300,000 people would likely be affected by the potential shutoff, based on Census data.
Customers in portions of Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Kern, Lake, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Tehama and Yuba counties are being notified, according to the statement.
Public Safety Power Shutoffs are implemented by PG&E when high temperatures, extreme dryness, and record-high winds create high fire-risk conditions.
Threat to forests
Meanwhile, at least half of the National Forests in California will remain closed because of the threat of wildfires, according to the Forest Service. All 18 of California’s National Forests have been closed since September 9 because of the fires.
With another heat wave forecast, the National Weather Service is warning that high winds could combine with “critically dry conditions” that could lead to rapid wildfire spread. A red flag warning has been issued from the Bay Area nearly to the Oregon border.
“Continued closures are based on extreme fire conditions, critical limitations of firefighting resources, and to provide for firefighter and public safety,” said Randy Moore, Regional Forester for the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region.
For those areas that do open to visitors, no campfires or use of stoves will be permitted. “We understand how important access to the National Forests is to our visitors. Our aim is to prevent any new fires on the landscape,” Moore added.