U.S. NEWS

PG&E To Cut Power To Over 100,000 Californians Amid Fire-Prone Weather

The utility shut off power as a preventive effort ― but such cuts can leave vulnerable groups who depend on electricity at risk.

Northern California utility Pacific Gas & Electric cut power to over 100,000 people on Wednesday in an effort to prevent fires as high winds were predicted for the region.

The utility, which caused outrage when it cut power to over 2 million Californians last month, said it would shut off electricity to about 50,000 households by the end of the day through at least Thursday morning. The shutoffs Wednesday affected about a dozen counties, including parts of Napa and Sonoma where deadly October 2017 fires ravaged homes and killed 44 people in wine country. 

Although there were no major active fires in the state, the National Weather Service issued a “red flag warning” for much of Northern California from Wednesday through early Thursday as high winds created the “potential for rapid spread of fire.”

PG&E had originally planned to shut power to 150,000 households Wednesday, but reduced the figure midday as weather forecasts improved.

Last month, as PG&E’s outages left hundreds of thousands in the dark over multiple days, vulnerable groups like seniors and people with disabilities faced life-threatening conditions, as some depend on electricity for medical purposes.

The utility’s equipment malfunctioning has been linked to several major fires in Northern California in recent years, including last year’s deadly Camp fire, which killed 85 people and nearly wiped out the entire town of Paradise

As colder weather comes to much of the country, California remains in its fire season.

“Cooler weather doesn’t mean that wildfire danger is no longer present,” Cal Fire reminded people on Twitter earlier this week. 

Last year, the Camp fire ― the state’s most destructive and deadliest ever ― occurred in November. The Thomas fire, the second-largest wildfire in state history, hit in December 2017.

This article has been updated with final shutoff numbers from PG&E.

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