California opens investigation into companies shutting off power during wildfires

Credit Barry Holtzclaw

Credit Barry Holtzclaw

The new evacuation order encompasses a huge area of Sonoma County, where the Kincade Fire has already burned through 25,455 acres (10,300 hectares) of land.

We understand that power shutoffs are more than an inconvenience for our customers and we did not live up to their expectations when it came to communicating about this event.

Another blackout Tuesday would be the third this month, after power was shut off from October 8 into October 9, which was followed by the current shutdown that began impacting El Dorado County at 2 p.m. Saturday.

It is possible that customers impacted by the October 26 PSPS could be part of the October 29 shutoff.

The PSPS will occur in six phases, times may change (earlier or later) dependent on weather. Siskiyou County is included in that list.

PG&E has now confirmed it will go ahead with its next power-shutoff event beginning Tuesday morning in portions of 29 counties, including parts of Marin.

"PG&E is in bankruptcy due to their own decision-making, they're in bankruptcy because of that greed", he said.

An agency under Newsom's wing, California Health and Human Services, has convened a Public Safety Power Shutoff Planning Team, which will work on strategies to assist the public amid planned power outages.

Pacific Gas and Electric has expanded its power blackout zone to 940,000 customers across Northern and Central California as extreme weather forecasts threaten to increase the risk of wildfires. The company will inspect 32,000 miles of lines before restoring power. The utility said it shut off power in areas of the Northern Sierra Foothills, the Northern Sacramento Valley and the North Bay Area at 5 p.m. Shelters have been opened at 2700 Maxwell Way in Fairfield, Lowe's, 1751 E Monte Vista Vacaville, and at the Solano County Fairgrounds, 900 Fairgrounds Drive in Vallejo. These locations offer bottled water, restrooms, electronic device charging, Wi-Fi, flashlights, batteries, cell phone chargers, coffee, tea, non-perishable snacks and air-conditioned seating.

Officials are expecting risky rates of spread, extreme spotting of up to one mile and high flame lengths in the overnight hours into Sunday, Cal Fire Incident Fire Behavior Analyst Steve Volmer said in a news conference Saturday night. Check the El Dorado County Office of Education's outage update page at for more information.

The area is basically inaccessible to fire crews, "so they are going to keep an eye on it as it burns down", Pratt said. According to a city alert sent just before 7 p.m., most addresses in the city had been restored.

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