Fire trucks in Geyserville, California, October 24 2019. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/AFP/JUSTIN SULLIVAN
Fire trucks in Geyserville, California, October 24 2019. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/AFP/JUSTIN SULLIVAN

Bengaluru — More than half a million homes and businesses in California could lose power this week as utilities, including Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison, cut off electricity as a preventive measure against wildfires.

More than 308,000 customers in seven counties, including Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Ventura in southern California, are under the public safety power shut-offs (PSPS) consideration, Southern California Edison said.

Shut-offs from SCE could start early on Thursday.

Meanwhile, PG&E has shut off power in 15 counties, affecting about 178,000 customers in those areas. The company said that additional power shut-offs for parts of San Mateo County and Kern County were expected to begin at about 8am GMT) on Thursday, affecting more than 1,000 customers.

San Diego Gas & Electric has also identified more than 41,000 customers under PSPS consideration, but has not implemented any power shut-offs on Thursday.

Forecaster Marc Chenard said the worst of the winds would arrive on Thursday afternoon and into Friday. “It looks like, at its worst, southern California will see wind gusts of 88km/h. Down in some of the coastal areas the winds could reach 120km/h later [in the day].” 

Power lines can be knocked down and start fires where there are dry trees and vegetation, according to earlier forecasts.

Bankrupt Californian power producer PG&E cut off electricity to more than 730,000 homes and workplaces in northern California earlier this month to try to reduce wildfire risks posed by extremely windy and dry weather.

Chenard added that northern California could experience dangerous wind gusts of up to 72km/h. “This is not going to abate until at least this weekend.”

Wildfires were also growing through the night in Sonoma County, about 104km north of San Francisco, which is popular with tourists visiting wine-producing areas in California.

By early Thursday morning, the fire had grown to 2,800ha, and more evacuations were ordered overnight in and near Geyserville, officials said. No injuries had been reported.

Reuters