SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 30: Pedestrians walk by a Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) truck at a job site on July 30, 2014 in San Francisco, California. A federal grand jury has added 27 new charges, including obstruction of justice, the criminal case agains

PG&E Truck (Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

PG&E Warns It May Cut Power To 70,000 Due To Fire Risk

KCBS Radio Afternoon News
November 07, 2018 - 2:12 pm

PG&E warned customers in nine Northern California counties, including Napa and Sonoma, that they may lose power as a wildfire precaution.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for 10 p.m. Wednesday through 7 a.m. Friday because of high winds, low humidity and warm temperatures.

Fire conditions are projected to reach their peak early Thursday, prompting PG&E to notify 70,000 customers in portions of Napa, Sonoma, Butte, Lake, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sierra and Yuba counties that their power may be shut off. The utility started notifying customers on Tuesday through automated voice messages, texts and emails of the possibility.

"We will only consider temporarily turning off power in the interest of safety and as a last resort during extreme weather conditions to reduce the risk of wildfire," a statement from the utility said. 

The forecast includes Diablo winds, a major component of the devastating North Bay wildfires in October 2017, meteorologist Jan Null said.

"These dry warm northeast winds most often in the late summer, fall and sometimes even in early winter time — those are Diablo winds. Having the whole summer to dry everything out… you really have a perfect prescription for a rapid fire spread," he said. 

In an unprecedented move for the utility company, power was shut off to nearly 60,000 customers for several days in October, also due to fire danger.

Several lawsuits have been filed against PG&E by people who lost loved ones and property to the 2017 wildfires. The suits accuse PG&E of failing to keep power lines clear, sparking several fires. State officials have found that power lines contributed to several fires but investigations are still ongoing.