A view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin headlands.

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Marin County Power Outage 'Annihilated' 911 Call Center Overnight

Tim Ryan
August 16, 2019 - 9:21 am

SAN RAFAEL — An unexplained power outage that affected a vast swath of Marin County overnight led to a huge number of emergency calls that "annihilated" the 911 call center, according the Marin County Sheriff's Office. 

More than 61,000 Pacific Gas & Electric customers lost electricity between 11 p.m. Thursday and rouglly 1:30 a.m. Friday in 20 towns and cities from Novato to Sausalito and west to Point Reyes. 

The cause of the electrical failure is unknown, but will be investigated, according to a PG&E spokesman J.D. Guidi.

The blackout led to a huge number of calls to authorities for help, said Sgt. Brenton Schneider of the sheriff's office. 

Between 11 p.m. and midnight on a typical night, the 911 call center receives 12 emergency calls, but last night there were 68, Schneider said. On average, there are also 45-52 non-emergency calls during that hour, but there were 217 during that hour, he said. 

"I do know that there were some medical calls that were received by our 911 center for residents asking for the fire department to bring generators for people that were on medical devices that require power that they did not have back ups for," he said, such as patients using oxygen machines. 

Schneider urged residents with similar needs to prepare for power outages, because PG&E is expected to intentionally cut electricity when the risk of wildfires is high.