California’s adventures struggle with thousands of power outages during fires

In Southern California, thousands of utility customers were warned they could stay on a dark Friday because it whipped the region through a dry, windy fire.

Precautionary power outages were initially considered among 100,000 customers to prevent sparking fires, but that number dropped to 47,000 in the afternoon, said Taelor Bakewell, a spokesman for Edison, Southern California.

Still, according to a preventive plan, 15,796 customers were cut off on Friday, he said.

In Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties, customers may still be affected, he said. Another 2,739 customers in San Diego County have been warned of a possible shutdown of San Diego Gas & Electric, the utility said.

The city of Los Angeles has its own taxpayer-operated utility that is not involved in precautionary outages. Downtime, by the way, has become commonplace in California’s dry, windy weather.

State Fire Department officials found that the Pacific gas and electricity pipelines caused the state’s deadliest flame, the 2018 campfire, and the utilities agreed to settle for billions of dollars in Northern California fires in 2017.

Even in late November, when night temperatures give frost signals in southern California, a fire could break out. The weekend forecast includes a dry, sea slice from the U.S.-Mexico border to Ventura County.

The National Meteorological Service said wind gusts of 65 km / h were possible in the regional mountains until Saturday afternoon.

“The fire hazard isn’t just affected by temperature,” said Tom Fischer, a meteorologist at the weather service in Oxnard. “It’s wind, low humidity and fuel moisture.”

The wind could subside on Sunday, he said, “But don’t let the guard down.”