US: California fires: Blazes continue as power is turned back on

Here's where and when PG&E may shut off power in the Bay Area

  Here's where and when PG&E may shut off power in the Bay Area PG&E officials are considering turning off power to 201,000 customers in Northern California due to windy weather forecast for Wednesday and Thursday. In the Bay Area, customers in Sonoma, Napa and San Mateo counties could be impacted. Rick Shaw bartends using light from a lantern at the Town Square Sports Bar in Sonoma, California, on October 9, 2019, during a planned power outage by the Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) utility company.

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Numerous Riverside County homes destroyed by fire; SoCal Edison cuts power to thousands

  Numerous Riverside County homes destroyed by fire; SoCal Edison cuts power to thousands On a day when utilities turned off power to millions to reduce the chance of a spark and authorities limited where vehicles could park in case a fire broke out, a dump truck driver who hastily offloaded burning trash Thursday on the side of a Riverside County highway started the fire everyone was hoping to avoid. It's called a "hot load," an infrequent but not altogether rare occurrence when a trash truck's haul somehow ignites and the driver opts to offload the garbage wherever they happen to be in a bid to save the vehicle, said Riverside County Fire Department spokeswoman April Newman.

The lights were back on for more than 2 million Northern Californians on Sunday after strong winds fueling wildfire concerns prompted the state's biggest power utility to darken hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses.

In Southern California, a few dozen customers were without power as firefighters slowly gained control over fires that killed two people, destroyed dozens of homes and forced 100,000 to evacuate. The largest fire, Saddleridge, was 42% contained at 7,965 acres Sunday and all evacuation orders had been lifted.

"Aggressive suppression efforts and favorable weather conditions (have) provided opportunities to make gains in obtaining full containment," the Los Angeles County Fire Department said in a statement. "Full extinguishment is expected."

All five evacuation centers closed Sunday, the Los Angeles Fire Department said, and no displaced residents have requested further shelter.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, who declared a state of emergency Friday because of the fires, said Cal Fire and local firefighters doused more than 300 blazes across the state last week.

After power is restored to large swath of California, PG&E claims shut-off prevented wildfires

  After power is restored to large swath of California, PG&E claims shut-off prevented wildfires Utility says downed power lines could have been fire risk as infuriated governor called on state regulators to investigate the intentional outage.Pacific Gas & Electric, the state’s largest utility, shut down power in stages last week to nearly 1 million customers in a ring around the Bay Area, from wine country to near the Oregon border, and as far east as several Sierra Nevada counties.

"Thank you to all of California's firefighters working hard to keep Californians safe," Newsom said.

In Northern California, power was shut down to almost 750,000 customers in 34 counties because of the "widespread, severe wind event" that added to already hot, dry conditions, Pacific Gas and Electric said. PG&E initiated a preemptive shutdown shortly after midnight Wednesday.

Wind gusts in excess of 70 mph were recorded Wednesday evening into Thursday. The vast majority of customers who were affected by the Public Safety Power Shutoff were restored within 48 hours, the utility said.

PG&E confirmed 50 instances of weather-related damage to its system, including some downed lines. The company said most of the damage had been fixed Sunday.

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The outage had angered many residents and local leaders. The utility, however, said the safety of residents stood above all other concerns.

PG&E's equipment was blamed for last year's Camp Fire that devastated the town of Paradise and killed 86 people. The ensuing financial crunch forced the utility to file for bankruptcy protection.

Newsom has blamed the preemptive outage on a history of bad choices by PG&E and promised a major reorganization of the beleaguered utility. He described the company's issues as "a story about greed and mismanagement over the course of decades. Neglect. A desire to advance not public safety, but profits."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: California fires: Blazes continue as power is turned back on

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