PG&E begins next round of blackouts to prevent California wildfires

PG&E begins next round of blackouts to prevent California wildfires

Firefighters watch as a helicopter drops water in a wildfire in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles, Monday.

This round of shutoffs is expected to begin around 2 the Sierra foothills, 3 the North Bay area, and about 1 a.m. on Thursday in San Mateo and Kern counties.

The San Diego Gas & Electric utility said it cut power to about 328 customers.

Power companies warned that additional power cuts could be ordered to reduce the risk of accidental fires. In recent years, PG&E has been under fire for the role its equipment played in a series of catastrophic blazes across the state, including last year's deadly Camp Fire.

Parts of Northern California have gone dark in the first stage of a mass blackout that could eventually leave more than a million people across the state without power. A couple of counties kept their power until after midnight.

Hundreds of people were forced to flee Northern California wine country early Thursday as a wildfire exploded in size amid risky winds that prompted utilities throughout the state to impose electrical blackouts to prevent fires.

Three customer resource centers will be open in El Dorado County: Georgetown at the Buffalo Hill Center, Placerville at the former county Sheriff's Office and Pollock Pines at Knotty Pine Lanes.

The National Weather Service says winds around the highest areas of Sonoma County have been blowing at speeds up to 112 km/h, and elsewhere in the region there are winds between 50 km/h and 80 km/h.

Harry Bosworth said Thursday that he saw his barn in Geyserville catch fire as they drove away.

PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said Wednesday that someone fired a pellet gun at a worker in California's northern Glenn County.

Angry customers took things further in the earlier power outage, with a PG&E office in Oroville vandalized with eggs.

While the scope of this week's shut off is less than the almost 800,000 customers left in the dark earlier this month, residents said the effects are just as wide-ranging.

How long will the PG&E power outages last?

The bankrupt Californian power producer said it had crews, equipment, vehicles and aircraft on standby to conduct the shutoffs and subsequent inspections, repairs and power restoration.

"We're losing school, we're losing work".

The fires are believed to have started in a mountainous area near Kincade Road and Burned Mountain Road.

- Trione Vineyards and Winery, which also was closed Thursday, said in a Facebook post that "the winery is good" and all of its staffers are safe."The vineyards make good fire breaks and all of the grapes are in (mostly)", the winery said. An employee was not injured. However, PG&E is looking to plan more power outages on Saturday, as the forecast suggests that this weekend could see worse winds than those during the Wine Country fires of 2017. 'It's a critical fire danger'.

Strenfel called the current wind event a "California-wide phenomenon".

The fires have been fueled by years of drought and dry vegetation as well as high winds. "It could have the potential to be a very significant event".

That's when Santa Ana winds are expected to begin whipping up in the south.

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